Landforms and rural development: The evolution of human settlements at alpine alluvial fans in the Admont Valley, Austria, since 1784 AD

  • Julia EULENSTEIN Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz, Austria
Keywords: Landform–settlement linkage, alluvial fan, natural hazard zonation, Habsburg Empire, historical maps


We used two historical maps that cover vast areas of central and eastern Europe at rather large scale dating to 1784 (First Military Survey of the Habsburg Empire; total extent 640,000 km²; scale 1: 28,800) and 1824 (cadastral land register of Francis I; 670,000 km²; 1: 2,880) to extracted individual buildings located at several alluvial fans in one valley in Austria (Admont Valley). Historic buildings were mapped and compared with present building (airborne–laserscanning based; 2008–2017), geomorphic (landform distribution), geomorphodynamic (documented damaging events at torrents), and spatial planning (hazard zonation maps) data. Results show that 69.2% of all present buildings are located at only 7% of the study area. Whereas the 1784–data are too inaccurate and unprecise for detailed spatial analyses, the 1824–data are very accurate and precise allowing spatial and socio–economic insight into the population and building evolution over a 190–year period. Results show for instance that despite a tremendous increase in buildings (911 in 1824; 3554 in 2008–2017), the proportion of buildings exposed to torrents–related natural hazards significantly decreased by 10.4% for yellow (moderate–risk) and by 13.7% for red (high–risk) zones. Similar historio–geomorphological studies as presented here might be accomplished in other countries in central and eastern Europe covered by the indicated historical map products.