Field course geo-microbiology and environmental & microbial ecology in high mountain ecosystems - a joint activity with CUSO

22-26 August 2016

A 5-day field course with practical work, lectures and exercises in geobiological and geochemical ecosystems under harsh conditions in glacial retreat landscapes in the Eastern Swiss Alps

A joint activity with CUSO Doctoral Program in Microbial sciences .

Guided by Pilar Junier (University of Neuchâtel) and Kurt Hanselmann (ETH Zurich)

Flyer (238ko)


The objective is to train students to carry out fieldwork under different environmental settings and also to initiate original research.



  • Geomicrobiology: Low temperature geobiochemistry in sulfur and iron dominated microbial habitats of mineral springs. Nutrient cycling by microbial ice and snow communities. Evolution of mountain lakes in glacier retreat areas. Sequestration of organic and inorganic nutrients and element cycling in high altitude aquatic ecosystems by clay erosion particles and colloids and through coupled Fe-Mn-P-N-cycling.
  • Biogeochemistry: Erosion, weathering, basin deposition, soil formation. Buildup and fate of organics in soils and sediments in alpine flood plains and river deltas. Carbonate ice formation in CO2 outgassing zones. Organics and fluid inclusions in peninnic shale deposits.
  • Geology: Lower Engadin Window (shale, travertine / tufa deposits), Silvretta nappe (gneis), Ela nappe (dolomite, gypsum), Totalp (serpentinite), Meierhofer Tälli (magnetite) Gotschna (radiolarite).
  • Applied and economic aspects of geobiochemistry and Hydrology: Alpine water resources, mineral water wellness, geomedicine, geomicrobiological and geobotanical toxins.

For more details click here

Locations Foreseen program: Weather conditions might make changes necessary.

  • August 22: Davos, introduction
  • August 23: Weissfluhjoch – Strelapass – Schiawang – Station Höhenweg – Weissfluhjoch – Totalp – Meierhofer Tälli - Salezer Horn South - Gotschna – Klosters – Davos
  • August 24: Wägerhus – Jöri glacial lake catchment
  • August 25: Lower Engadin Window: Scuol-Tarasp - Ftan - Fuschna - Nairs – Clozza – Sinestra - Rablönch - Davos
  • August 26: Davos, oral presentations. Course ends early afternoon

General information

Dates: Monday to Friday August 22-26, 2016 (5 days)

Accommodation: Jugenherberge Davos Youthpalace, Davos Dorf, 4 nights, Monday to Friday, August 22 to 26.

Meeting points:

  • Monday, August 22: 11.50 Davos-Dorf RhB (Train departures: Neuchâtel 07.59, Lausanne 07.20, Genève 06.42, via Zürich HB à Landquart – Klosters - Davos).
  • Friday, August 26: Return from Davos Dorf, depart 13.06 à Zürich (15.23) à Neuchâtel (17.01), Lausanne (17.40), Genève (18.18).

ECTS: 2.0 (Research tools activity)

EvaluationPreparation*, field work and reporting

*Preparation: Pre-excursion preparation with field guides via Internet on OLAT. Monday, August 22 in Davos: Introduction to topics, presentation of projects, organization of sampling strategies

Information: Please contact the scientific organizer Pilar Junier

Registration fee: free for participants at the Interuniversity doctoral program in Organsimal biology or CUSO doctoral program in Microbiological sciences. CHF 350 for others. Included: 4 nights, breakfast, dinner, local buses + trains with ½ Tax abo or GA. Back pack lunches are not included.

Fitness: Walking on rough mountainous terrain and working in the field for 7-9 hrs/day

Clothing: Good mountain walking boots, layers of clothes for warm as well as for rainy, cold weather.

Insurance: Is the responsibility of each participant, also Alpine Air Rescue (REGA)

Prerequisites: Interest and the ability to delve into one of the field trip topics

Travel expenses:  participants at the Interuniversity doctoral program in Organismal biology and CUSO doctoral program in Microbial sciences are eligible for reimbursement of incurred travel expenses by train + bus (half-fare card, and 2nd class) from home University to Davos

  • For Interuniversity doctoral program in Organismal biology participants who are not member of the CUSO doctoral program in Microbial sciences. Please send the original tickets (no copies) with the reimbursement form to Christiane Bobillier.
  • For  CUSO doctoral program in Microbial sciences participants: see information on the web site.


  • This course is open to all PhD students, however priority is given to PhD students of the 2 doctoral programs until 15 April 2016.
  • Maximum number of participants: 12

Registration through the CUSO doctoral program in Microbial sciences web site  closed

Prerequisites: Interest and the ability to delve into one of the field trip topics

Deadline: 17 June 2016. After 17 June inquire for open places via e-mail to Pilar Junier or by calling: 032 718 2244

  • Note cancellation fees apply after 17 June:

Timeline of cancelation costs :
June 17th 2016 Latest date for cancellation without costs (until 23.59 hrs)
June 18th : 20% of course costs + CHF 15 handling fee
June 19th to July 23rd : 50% of course costs + CHF 15 handling fee
Junly 24th to August 7th : 75% of course costs + CHF 15 handling fee
August 6th to 15th : 90% of course costs + CHF 15 handling fee
August 16th to 20th : 95% of course costs + CHF 15 handling fee
Agust 21st and "No show" : 100% of course costs + CHF 15 handling fee

Cancellation fees are based on the total cost (without subsidies) of the full arrangement.

You must contact the organizer, kurt.hanselmann@erdw.ethz.ch directly, if you would like to cancel your arrangement. Cancellation letters must arrive at the organizer’s desk before midnight of the desired cancellation date.

Fees for payment reminders:
The first payment reminder is CHF 10, the second CHF 20 in addition to the cancelation fees.

The organizers cannot cover these fees. Please consult your personal travel cancellation insurance contract for accepted reasons and contactyour insurance company directly for reimbursement claims, if this should become necessary.