EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Geomorphological-geological characterization of an active, deep-seated rockslide in a heavily foliated rock mass – Wasserradkopf, Austria 

Severin Simma1, Reinhard Gerstner2, Gerald Valentin3, Franz Goldschmidt4, and Christian Zangerl2
Severin Simma et al.
  • 1Department of Geology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria (
  • 2Institute of Applied Geology, Civil Engineering and Natural Hazards, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), Vienna, Austria
  • 3Geological Survey of Salzburg, Salzburg, Vienna
  • 4Geological Survey of Carinthia, Klagenfurt, Austria

We present a study focusing on the geologic-geometrical characterization of an approximately
1,5 km² large, deep-seated rock slide at the south-eastern slope of the Wasserradkopf (3032
m a.s.l.) located in the high alpine environment of the Hohe Tauern National Park (Carinthia,
Austria). The rocks composing the Wasserradkopf belong to the “Bündnerschiefer”, which
mainly consist of a highly schistose rock mass.
Within our study, we performed a lithological and structural characterization, detailly mapped
the geomorphological features, and incorporated high resolution INSAR data in order to
demonstrate the structural control on the rock slide process.
Firstly, we conducted a geological field survey with the aim of creating a geological map of the
study site. Petrographic investigations on the microscope helped to classify the mapped
lithologies according to their mineralogy. Additionally, we recorded discontinuities to identify
the structural inventory of the rock mass hosting the rock slide allocate the discontinuities to
discontinuity sets.
Secondly, we characterized and mapped the geomorphological features, i.e., scarps, counter
facing scarps and horst and graben structures on the rock slide surface to identify the unstable
areas and distinguish individual rock slide slabs.
Finally, we assessed the INSAR data to quantify the movement in the outlined unstable areas.
By mapping areas of differential deformation rates, we confirm the presence of individual rock
slide slabs.
The preliminary results show that dominant brittle structures, which are represented by two
subvertical NNE-SSW and WNW-ESE striking joint sets, and several NE-SW striking steep
standing faults provide a favorable structural predisposition in interplay with the moderately
out-slope dipping schistosity for a rock slide mechanism to develop. Moreover, we correlate
the differential movement rates observable in the INSAR data with the individual rock slide
slabs identified by geomorphologic mapping.
By this combination of geological, geomorphological and advanced remote sensing techniques
we demonstrate the structural influence on the rock slide process and unravel its internal
deformation and kinematics.

How to cite: Simma, S., Gerstner, R., Valentin, G., Goldschmidt, F., and Zangerl, C.: Geomorphological-geological characterization of an active, deep-seated rockslide in a heavily foliated rock mass – Wasserradkopf, Austria , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14912,, 2023.