Dr. Luca Malatesta

Luca Malatesta
Dr. Luca Malatesta
Gebäude A 27, Raum 001
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-27522

Funktion und Aufgaben:

Senior scientist in climatic and tectonic geomorphology.
on Twitter: @_geoLuca

Wissenschaftliche Interessen:

Current research

  • Potential biases in the creation and preservation of marine terraces as a function of coastal uplift rates.
    [with Noah Finnegan (UC Santa Cruz), Kim Huppert, Anne-Morwenn Pastier, and Sumiko Tsukamoto (LIAG Hannover)]
  • Modelling of landscapes with non-monotonic fluxes of water (evaporation/infiltration) and sediment (lakes).
    [with Boris Gailleton and Jean Braun]
  • Long-term deformation and landscape building in seismogenic zones
    [with Lucile Bruhat and Jean-Arthur Olive (ENS Paris)]


Jan. 2020 - present
GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences Potsdam
Senior Research Scientist in the Earth Surface Modelling Section

Sept. 2018 - Dec. 2019
University of Lausanne
Maître Assistant (lecturer) at the Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics

Mar. 2017 - Aug. 2018
UC Santa Cruz
SNSF Postdoctoral fellow; Project: Transient eustatic forcing of coastal bedrock rivers with Noah Finnegan

Oct. 2016 - Feb. 2017
University of Geneva
Visiting scientist in the group of Sébastien Castelltort

Werdegang / Ausbildung:

California Institute of Technology, PhD in Geology
Thesis: Impact of climate and tectonics on the morphodynamics of alluvial piedmonts, implications for sediment transfer and the stratigraphic record.
Supervisor: Jean-Philippe Avouac; Co-supervisor: Michael P. Lamb

ETH Zurich, MSc in Geology
Thesis: Landscape Evolution and Lateral Growth of the SW Tian Shan, Uzbekistan.
Thesis supervisors: Sébastien Castelltort, Vincenzo Picotti, Susan Ivy-Ochs

ETH Zurich, BSc in Earth Sciences
Thesis: Numerical study of the plates and slabs dynamics in double subduction systems with one-sided accretion.
Thesis supervisor: Taras Gerya


Students and postdocs I have (had) the opportunity to work with:

  • Dr. Anne-Morwenn Pastier for her postdoctoral fellowship on the creation and preservation of corral reef terraces under varying tectonic and climatic conditions (2020-present)
  • Dr. Boris Gailleton for his postdoctoral fellowship on the modelling of landscapes with non monotonic changes in water and sediment fluxes (2020-present)
  • Sonia Flückiger for her BSc thesis at the University of Lausanne about quantitative constraints on glacial lake outburst floods from fluvial deposits (2020)
  • Andreas Ruby for his research internship (MSc) on the distribution of marine terraces  across the Japanese archipelago as a function of local uplift rates (2020)
  • Emily Carreño for her undergraduate senior thesis at UC Santa Cruz on the sampling bias in global uplift rates derived from marine terraces(2018)


Introduction to Numerical Modelling on MATLAB (BSc, UNIL, 2018-2019)

Erosion, Tectonics, and Climate (BSc, UNIL, 2018-2019)

Dates and Rates in the Landscapes (MSc, UNIL, with G. King, 2019)

Introduction to Alpine Geology (BSc UNIL, 2019)

Creation of a Google Earth based field guide for the Spanish Pyrenean excursion "sedimentary rocks in the field" led by Sébastien Castelltort at ETH Zurich (2011)

Wissenschaftliche Gremien:

Academic services

Reviewer for American Journal of Science, The Depositional Record, Ecological Processes, EPSL, ESPL, E Surf D, Geomorphology, JGR Solid-Earth, JGR Earth Surface, Quaternary International, Quaternary Research, Scientific Reports, Tectonics, Tectonophysics, Terra Nova.

Organizer of the Steepest Descent Meeting at the EGU General Assembly, 2017-2020.

Convener and chair of geomorphology and tectonics sessions at EGU 2016-2020.

Co-initiator of the Swiss Geoscience Master Congress (SGMC) and committee member of the first edition in November 2011


2018 Basin Research Early Career Award (IAS) for the article “Lag and mixing during sediment transfer across the Tian Shan piedmont caused by climate-driven aggradation–incision cycles” (Malatesta et al., Basin Research, 2017)

Outstanding Student Poster and PICO (OSPP) award at EGU 2017 for “A model to quantify mixing across alluvial piedmonts with cycles of aggradation and incision”

Early Postdoc.Mobility Fellowship (1.5 year) from the Swiss National Science Foundation for the project “Transient eustatic forcing of coastal bedrock rivers”, 2017

Doc.Mobility Fellowship (1 year) from the Swiss National Science Foundation for the project “Nucleation of waterfalls at intermittently shielded fault scarps”, 2015

Swiss Geological Society Award for the “most outstanding Master's thesis in Earth Sciences”, 2011

Willi Studer Prize for the best Master's studies in the department of Earth Sciences at ETH Zurich, 2011