Telephone (CH):   +41 44 632 33 47
Office:   CHN G 63
Universitätstrasse 16
8092 Zürich

Quick bio:
I began a postdoc at ETH Zürich in March 2016. I am primarily working on better understanding fluvial sediment transport, landslide initiation, and bedrock incision in steep landscapes. I use a combination of field measurements, laboratory experiments, and simple theoretical models to understand the processes that move sediment around Earth's surface.

Topographic controls on shallow landsliding
It is generally accepted that steeper terrain is more prone to shallow landsliding simply because gravity is pulling harder in the downslope direction. It has also been argued that convergent topography, which accumulates more runoff, should be more prone to shallow landsliding. In recent experiments I have discovered that the relationships between topographic form and slope stability may be more complex. In collaboration with colleagues at ETH and WSL, I am currently testing if these relationships can be extended to natural hillslopes by comparing databases of shallow landslide scars to predicted stability. Landslide scars, however, do not record the precise timing or hydrologic forcing associated with landslide occurrence and are subject to subsequent erosion and growth, obscuring the initiation location. Direct observations of shallow landslide initiation are rare, making it difficult to thoroughly test theoretical predictions of the role topography plays in controlling slope stability. To address this gap in observations, I am also monitoring shallow landslide activity in a steep, landslide-prone catchment in the Swiss Alps (pictured).
The river-debris flow transition
Fluvial sediment transport and shallow landsliding are typically thought to occur in two distinct realms of the landscape (rivers and hillslopes, respectively). However, a growing number of observations indicate that destructive shallow landslides may also initiate on the beds of steep channels. Aside from a handful of isolated field observations, we lacked the ability to predict the occurrence of these events or even where they might occur. Using a series of laboratory flume experiments (as shown in the video), colleagues at Caltech and I probed a wide range in slopes and identified the transition between fluvial and landslide processes at 23° for my experimental conditions. Moreover, we unified theories of fluvial transport and slope stability to predict this transition wherever sediment characteristics are known.
Fluvial transport in mountain streams
Transport of sediment by dilute fluvial processes is difficult to predict in steep, mountain streams, where grains of all sizes (sand to boulders) exist in a relatively unorganized state. In steep streams, sediment transport rates are typically an order of magnitude smaller than predicted by traditional sediment transport formulas. I have performed laboratory flume experiments at Caltech to examine the extent to which altered hydraulics of shallow flows are responsible for low transport rates. In the field, I have led efforts to measure directly the forces required to dislodge sediment from the stream bed. Better understanding when sediment moves in steep channels will provide insights into the erosion of mountain ranges, and into the supply and stability of coarse sediment, which provides habitat for fish.


Full CV in PDF

    2016 (defended December 1, 2015), Ph.D. in Geology, California Institute of Technology
    2009, B.A. in Environmental Earth Science, University of California, Berkeley
    Research and professional experience
    2016 - present: ETH Zurich Postdoctoral Fellow
    2010 - 2016: Graduate Research Assistant, California Institute of Technology
    2010: Graduate Research Assistant, Los Alamos National Laboratory
    2009-2010: Field Assistant, University of California, Berkeley
    2009-2010: Watershed Science Intern, Sound Watershed Consulting, Oakland, CA
    2008: Engineering Geologist Intern, Stoney-Miller Consultants, Inc., Irvine, CA
    Teaching assistant, Caltech:
  • Geomorphology
  • Continental Tectonics
  • Intro. to Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • GIS for Geology and Planetary Sciences

  • Teaching assistant, UC Berkeley:
  • Geomorphology



  1. Prancevic, J. P., M. P. Lamb, M. C. Palucis, and J. G. Venditti, Enhanced stability of experimental hillslopes to seepage-induced shallow landslides, in prep

  2. Malatesta, L. C., Prancevic, J. P., and J.-P. Avouac, Autogenic terraces and entrenchment patterns due to lateral feedbacks in incising alluvial channels, J. Geo-phys. Res., accepted

  3. Prancevic, J. P., and M. P. Lamb, Unraveling bed slope from relative roughness in initial sediment motion, J. Geophys. Res., 2015a PDF

  4. Prancevic, J. P., and M. P. Lamb, Particle friction angles in steep mountain channels, J. Geophys. Res., 2015b PDF

  5. Prancevic, J. P., M. P. Lamb, and B. M. Fuller, Incipient sediment motion across the river to debris-flow transition, Geology, 42, 191–194, 2014 PDF

  6. Conference abstracts (last 5 years)
    Prancevic, J. P., M. P. Lamb, M. Palucis, and J. G. Venditti, Enhanced stability of hillslopes and channel beds to mass failure, EGU General Assembly, 2016

    Prancevic, J. P., M. P. Lamb, F. Ayoub, and J. G. Venditti, Enhanced stability of steep channel beds to mass failure and debris flow initiation, AGU Fall Meeting, 2015

    Prancevic, J. P., and M. P. Lamb, The effects of grain sorting on the stability of gravel and cobble channel beds, AGU Fall Meeting, 2014

    Prancevic, J. P., and M. P. Lamb, In situ measurements of particle friction angles in steep, narrow channels, AGU Fall Meeting, 2013a

    Prancevic, J. P., and M. P. Lamb, Relative roughness controls on incipient sediment motion for steep mountain channels, Geophysical Research Abstracts, EGU General Assembly 2013, 2013b

    Prancevic, J. P., M. P. Lamb, and B. M. Fuller, Relative roughness controls on incipient sediment motion in steep channels, AGU Fall Meeting, 2012

    Gangodagamage, C., J. Rowland, C. wilson, S. P. Brumby, J. P. Prancevic, B. Crosby, P. Marsh, and G. Altmann, Topographic Signature of Climate Changeinsights into climatic controls on landscape evolution under permafrost and nonpermafrost environments. , AGU Fall Meeting, 2012

    Prancevic, J. P., M. P. Lamb, and B. Fuller, Assessing the slope dependency of the critical Shields stress in very steep streams using laboratory flume experiments, AGU Fall Meeting, 2011

    Rowland, J., C. Gangodagamage, C. J. Wilson, J. P. Prancevic, S. P. Brumby, P. Marsh, and B. Crosby, Scaling Laws in Arctic Permafrost River Basins: Statistical Signature in Transition, AGU Fall Meeting, 2011