Costanza Morino

The Open University


The hidden hazard of melting ground-ice in Northern Iceland


Susan J. Conway Matthew R. Balme Þorsteinn Sæmundsson Colm Jordan John Hillier Tom Argles

PhD Summary

My project focusses on the possible connections between landslides occurring in mountain regions of northern Iceland and ground-ice degradation due to climate change. I am currently running two parallel studies. The first one focusses on the analysis of the initiation processes of the debris flows affecting the slope above the town of Ísafjörður (Westfjords). I have characterized how these debris flows begin and evolve calculating the eroded and deposited volumes of material moved by the debris flows. The other study regards a catastrophic landslide that occurred in the Tröllaskagi peninsula. I am using a variety of techniques (applied field geophysics, GIS and spatial data analysis, high-resolution photogrammetry and laser-altimetry topographic data analysis) for characterizing the volumes (of rocks, debris, ground-ice and water) mobilized by the landslide in order to understand its development. The combination of these studies will aid in assessing the natural hazard constituted by rapid mass movements triggered by ground-ice degradation, and thus in determining the risk to local population.

What inspires you?

I grew up in the shade of the Italian Alps. My brothers and I spent almost entirely our holidays as little savages, hiking, climbing, observing animals and discovering the wild. I believe that my childhood had a primary role in inspiring my love for mountains and in general for the beauties of nature. When I reach the summit of a mountain, I find the answers to many questions, about geology and not.

Previous Activity

I did my BSc and MSc in Geology at the University of Torino (Italy). During my undergraduate studies, I did two internships at Sea Consulting S.r.l., a geological engineering company in Torino, meanwhile I was working as a teaching assistant at the Department of Earth Science. After my graduation, I worked as a field assistant for the University of Torino, studying tectonic processes in the Monviso Complex.

Why did you choose Docotoral Research?

Doing research in a field that I am interested in is a unique opportunity to make new discoveries and improving my skills as scientist. I have chosen to begin my Doctoral Research because when I study what I like I do not feel the fatigue of doing it.

Why did you choose a CENTA Studentship?

CENTA supports and funds pioneering projects like the one that I have chosen. Studying the possible connections between degrading permafrost and landslides it is not just interesting in itself, but it is important for understanding the potential risks for local population in Iceland. Furthermore, CENTA offers to its PhD students an excellent training program that will allow me to improve my research techniques, scientific methods, communication and interpersonal skills.

What are your future plans

Whatever I will do in my future, the strong skills that I am acquiring with this Doctorate Research Program will allow me to successfully pursue my future career.