Group retreat 2023

This year we returned to Les Diablerets for our annual group retreat. We hiked from the Col des Mosses to Lac Lioson before pausing for lunch, whilst some of the group continued the hike back to Les Diablerets. The theme of this years retreat was work-life balance and how to prioritise effectively in an academic career – after the hike we had an interesting discussion that gave all of us a lot to reflect on.

The group has expanded a lot over the past 12 months, and it was great to welcome Tancrede, Sarah and Maxime who have recently joined/will soon join as post-docs. The PIs cooked dinner and many thanks to Samuel, Salome and Brandon for the cookies and cake that fuelled our competitive spirit in the post-dinner quiz and games…!

Welcome to Kejdi, Daniel and Samuel

We are happy to welcome three new group members working on glacier modelling with the “Instructed Glacier Model” :

Kejdi Lleshi has a master in Geophysics obtained at Universite Grenoble Alpes, France, and did a master’s thesis in Grenoble on “Icequake localization using full wavefield time reverse imaging”. Kejdi starts his PhD on paleo glacier modelling using new Machine Learning emulation techniques.

Daniel Bonser has a master’s in physics obtained at the University of Exeter, UK, and did a master’s thesis on “Quantum Optimal Control to Decipher Avian Magnetoreception”. Daniel starts also a PhD in paleo glacier modelling that includes new ML acceleration techniques to explore long-time scales.

Samuel Cook has a PhD in Glaciology obtained from Cambridge in November 2020. Samuel got a 2-year-long postdoc from the faculty and will work on ML-aided inverse modelling to infer the basal conditions of glaciers, having spent the last two years working on data assimilation as a postdoc at IGE in Grenoble.

Congratulations Joanne!

After almost 5 years of hard work, Joanne submitted her PhD titled “Constraining palaeo-environmental conditions at the Gorner glacier Switzerland, since the last glacial maximum, using recently developed applications of luminescence dating” this week. Congratulations Joanne!

Fieldwork in the Swiss Alps

At the end of June, Leif, Xiaoxia, Audrey and Kathy went to the Vispa valley, Switzerland, for the first fieldwork of this year (which was also Kathy’s first geological expedition!) for Xiaoxia’s PhD research. Xiaoxia’s project is part of the ERC supported ICED project, which aims to investigate the timing of overdeepened valley formation and relate it to glacial/interglacial cycles using novel OSL and ESR thermochronometry. Samples were collected along the  Saas and Matter Vispa rivers to determine the  timing of valley incision. The trip started at the conjunction of the Rhone and Vispa valleys before migrating towards the Saas Vispa river valley- which is characterized by a deep valley. Although the original aim was to collect samples as close to the river as possible, most of the place were inaccessible. In the end, the team managed to successfully collect 11 samples which will be processed at the University of Lausanne in the next few months.

New research on subglacial erosion and sediment transport

Ian Delaney has recently submitted a paper about modeling subglacial erosion and sediment transport. Here, he and group members Leif Anderson and Frederic Herman developed a two-dimensional model that erodes bedrock and transports sediment in response to hydraulic conditions and sediment availability below the glacier. 

Here are a couple of videos showing the model’s behavior as applied to Griesgletscher here in Switzerland. Hopefully, the accompanying manuscript will be available in the coming months. 

This video shows subglacial conditions such as the size of the subglacial channels, the water flow, and the water velocity as they respond to hydrological forcing. We also show the changes in routing that occur in the domain by evaluating the number of cells that feed into a cell (receiver cells). 

The second video shows the spatial distribution of subglacial water discharge and sediment discharge. The top panel shows the total water transport in sediment from the catchment and the response of the sediment thickness across the catchment to sediment transport. 

Please feel free to contact Ian about the research at

We’re hiring!

Updated 20.10.23:

Christoph and Georgina are looking for a PhD candidate to work on a global Quaternary sediment dynamics!

Wind-blown deposits accumulate under specific climatic conditions, and therefore provide valuable archives of palaeoenvironmental change. Over the past few decades, an enormous amount of data has been generated constraining these records (timing of deposition, environmental properties). In this project, we seek to create a database of these data and to apply innovative data mining techniques to explore patterns of global palaeoenvironmental change.

The ideal candidate will have experience of quantitative geoscience and/or data science, with programming skills in R/MATLAB or similar and GIS/Spatial data analysis skills. An interest in palaeoenvironmental change is essential. Deadline is November 15th 2023 and applications must be made via the UNIL jobs portal here.

vLED2021 and congratulations Joanne!

Last week many members of ICE participated in the first virtual Luminescence and Electron Spin Resonance Dating (LED) conference. The conference organisers did a fantastic job of creating a dynamic online event, comprising a combination of zoom sessions, pre-recorded oral and poster presentations and the opportunity to discuss and socialise with colleagues via GatherTown. All of the PhD students did brilliantly at presenting their research, including Yuni and Xiaoxia who started earlier this year.

Yuni presented preliminary results of luminescence dating on fluvial sediments from Indonesia, whilst Xiaoxia presented her first ESR dose response curves for samples collected at Sion, which she is using to develop the ESR-thermochronometry technique. Chloé showed why the choice of temperatures for isothermal decay measurements is crucial for deriving robust thermal kinetic parameters from feldspar minerals, whilst Joanne presented her first luminescence palaeothermometry ages from Gornergrat, Zermatt. Joanne’s presentation was very well received by the community and she was awarded the Ann Wintle prize for best application – congratulations Joanne!

In addition to the PhD students, the senior researchers from ICE were also very active. Melanie presented her final results from exploring the effect of chemical weathering on the luminescence properties of feldspar, whilst Christoph presented his initial results from trying to apply rock surface exposure dating to pebbles from the Nazca lines in Peru.

The next LED meeting will take place in Denmark in 2023 – we are really looking forward to seeing our colleagues again in person and to discussing the latest developments in luminescence and ESR dating together then.

New research published!

Joanne contrasted the luminescence properties of rock slices placed directly on the carousel, and those placed into a sample cup. The latter had more reproducible luminescence properties.

Joanne’s latest work on reducing variation in OSL rock surface dating profiles is to be published in Quaternary Geochronology! Through numerous experiments, her paper explores the influence of various measurement parameters on scatter observed in OSL-depth profiles measured from rock surfaces exposed in Zermatt, Switzerland. The results of the study highlight the potential impact of thermal lag, and concludes by suggesting that future OSL rock surface dating studies place samples in metal cups, reduce heating rates and increase preheating and holding times to minimise this effect.

You can read Joanne’s article here.

Welcome Yuniarti!

Yuniarti joined IDyST as a PhD student in February 2021 having completed an MSc in Geology at the Institute of Technology in Bandung, Indonesia. Her research will focus on understanding the Quaternary morphodynamics of tropical fluvial systems, with a specific study area of Riau Province, Indonesia. You can find out more about Yuniarti and her research here. Yuniarti will be co-supervised by Prof. Georgina King (ICE) and Prof. Stuart Lane (ALPWISE). Welcome Yuniarti!

New adventures – farewell Lily and Rabiul!

It is bitter sweet to say farewell to Lily Bossin and Rabiul Biswas this month, who have both secured permanent academic positions elsewhere.

Rabiul joined IDyST as a Senior SNSF Scientist in 2015. He has been involved in numerous projects since then, especially the development of thermoluminescence thermochronometry, and more recently thermoluminescence thermometry. Rabiul has secured an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Earth Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.

Lily joined IDyST as a post-doctoral researcher in February 2019. She was key to the establishment of the Electron Spin Resonance dating laboratory and has been working towards the establishment of measurement protocols for ESR thermochronometry. Lily has secured a position as a Physicist at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland.

This is a fantastic and very much well deserved achievement for both Lily and Rabiul, and whilst we will miss them, we wish them the best of luck in their new positions and for their future careers!

Lily in action in the field! A physicist by training, geological sampling was completely new to Lily when she joined IDyST.
Rabiul receives a farewell gift in his office. The photo depicts fieldwork that he participated in at the Gornergletscher, Zermatt, Switzerland.