Research Foundation for Alpine and Subalpine Environments

The Research Foundation for Alpine and Subalpine Environments (RFASE) was founded in 2001 with the objectives of collecting,  transmitting and exchanging scientific knowledge of alpine and subalpine landscapes through research and teaching. The focus is on the geomorphology and geology of the landscapes and includes the relationships with vegetation, surface hydrology and human activity.

Geomorphological mapping takes a central position in our research activities through the link with the field work and investigations carried out by the University of Amsterdam in State of Vorarlberg, Austria, since the mid-1950s. Currently, four topics are of special interest: multi-level digital geomorphological mappinggeodiversitygeoconservation and the relations between landscape and vegetation.

NEW PUBLICATION on age dating of landforms, by RFASE and co-authors: 10Be age datings of Late Würmian erratics from Vorarlberg (Austria) and southern Germany.

NEW PUBLICATION on landslides in Vorarlberg, co-authored by Harry Seijmonsbergen: Steger, S., E. Schmalz, A.C. Seijmonsbergen & T. Glade, T. (2022): The Walgau: A landscape shaped by landslides. In: Embleton-Hamann, C. (Ed.), Landscapes and landforms of Austria, 237-251. Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

NEW STORYMAP, presenting recent results of research in Vorarlberg: How to identify valuable landscapes, by combining geomorphological and biotope data. Relevant to researchers, policy-makers and land-use planners – and to those who simply enjoy the beauty of the mountains.

PRESENTATION on the current research activities of RFASE given to Lulofs, the Alumni Association for Physical Geography and Earth Sciences of the University of Amsterdam, on 21th June 2021, is now available on YouTube:

NEW RFASE PUBLICATION on geomorphological mapping: Hierarchical geomorphological mapping in mountainous areas. Journal of Maps, 17:2, 214-224, 2021. The digital paper and supplemental data are available at: The dynamic nature of the mapping method is illustrated in a storymap:

See also the significant UPDATE of the deglaciation history of the Bregenzerwald and adjacent areas.

The scenery of the mountains of Vorarlberg is beautiful.  This is not in the least due to the high diversity of the landscapes – the product of the interaction of endogenic process, which find their origin within the earth and work on relatively long time scale, and exogenic processes, which act at or near the earth’s surface on relatively short time scales. Many landforms, small and large, tell the story of the origin of the mountain landscapes. Some of these are spectacular, well-known and well-documented. Others are easily overlooked by non-professionals, but are equally important as witnesses of the earth’s history.

The RFASE staff comprises a small team of geoscience professionals with broad experience in academia and the private sector. Short-term support is given by students of the University of Amsterdam. The long-term cooperation with die inatura – Erlebnis Naturschau Dornbirn is invaluable for RFASE.