Research in this field has until now concentrated on the geology of mountain ranges (mainly the Alps and the Thetyans ranges), using modern techniques in field cartography, structural geology, and in the study of metamorphism, magmatic petrology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, geochemistry, and palaeontology methods.
Other research activities that have been developed include sequential stratigraphy using the 3D seismic technique, palaeontology and quantitative biochronology, geothermics in an Alpine context, and mining geology, as well as studies linked to environmental problems. Geophysical research mainly concerned with practical sub-surface studies in the fields of civil engineering, the environment, and problems related to resources of water and basic raw materials.
The main fields of study in physical geography include:
- The changing landscape and climate during the recent Quaternary period looked at from five different points of view: glacial morphology; the past and present distribution of permafrost in an Alpine context; natural risks associated with earth movments and landslides; present day climate dynamics; and the factors asociated with recent changes in climate, and their effect on human activities.
- The transformation and exploitation of fragile eco-systems in areas that are at the physical and economic limit for human settlement, especially in mountainous and semi-desert regions.
Studies in human geography concentrate mainly on urban areas, world-wide:
- The dynamics of urban systems, and the development of networks which constitute an increasingly vital element in the organization and transformation of societies and landscapes. These factors are of crucial importance in current problems related to land management policies.
- The social and cultural implications of urban and rural activities. Apart from questions related to land ownership, mobility and the public transport infrastructure, or the resurgence of a region, other aspects are studied, such as migratory movements of population, the integration of migrant groups, cross-cultural exchanges stemming from city life, and the dynamic resulting from the world-wide growth of urban and metropolitan areas.