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Nadja Zupan Hajna, PhD

Principal Research Associate, Associate Professor

+386 5 700 19 37



Graduated in geology in 1987; Master degree in geology in 1990; Doctorate of geological sciences in 2002; all degrees at the Geology Department of Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering of the Ljubljana University. Her doctoral thesis with the title »The relationship between the autochthonous chemical and mechanical weathering during formation of karst caves« deals with weathering of limestones (incomplete solution) in caves and production of carbonate clastic sediments.


Scientific training/ working abroad

  • The University of Sydney, Australia (11.10. - 1.11. 2010; 11.7. – 11.9. 2011; and 8.10. – 9.11. 2012): working visits and field work in different karst areas of Australia. 7. Frame program, Human sources, International Research Staff Exchange Scheme - IRSES; 2010-2013: Project HYPOCAVE – Hypogene caves morphology – comparison between Europe and Australia
  • McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada, 1991, Slovenian grant of »Republican Secretariat for Research and Technology« (contract no. A64392618/90) for 3 month training (February-April), dating of flowstones, at Prof. Dr. D.C. Ford



  • 1987-1990: Young Researcher (Master student) at Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU
  • 1991-2002: Assistant with Master degree at Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU
  • 2002-2007: Scientific Research Fellow at Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU
  • 2007 (13.6.) - 2012: Senior Research Fellow at Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU
  • 2012 ( since 21.6.): Research Advisor at Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU
  • 1.10.2004 - 30.9.2010, additional employment: University of Primorska, Faculty of Humanities
  • 1.5.2010 - 30.9.2011, additional employment: University of Nova Gorica, Faculty of Post-Graduate Studies


Membership in the national and international organizations

  • Member of Slovene Geological Society, President 2006 – 2010.
  • Member of Geomorphological Society of Slovenia, President 2002- 2007.
  • Member of the Bureau of the International Union of Speleology Bureau-UIS, since 2009
  • President of the International Union of Speleology Bureau-UIS, since 2022
  • Member of SINQUA since 2014; and INQUA Stratigraphy and Geochronology Commission – SACCOM and SEQS since 2018.  
  • Member of IUCN/WCPA Caves and Karst Group, since 2018
  • Member of ESA Science Topical Team on Planetary Caves, since 2021
  • Krastological Society Anthron; Secretary


Other memberships and editorial

  • Sectoral Editor of Acta Carsologica (since 2014)
  • Guest editor - Quaternary international [Print ed.]. Oxford: Elsevier, 1989-ISSN 1040-6182 (2020)
  • 2012 - 2016: member of Scientific Board of Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • 2008 - 2012: member of Scientific Board at Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU


Research activity

  • Karst & cave sediments: composition, origin, age
  • Mineral composition of cave fluvial sediments and incomplete solution of limestones in the karst caves
  • Paleomagnetic dating of clastic sediments and flowstones: in collaboration with Institute of Geology CAS from Prague
  • Origin of the soils on karst surface / red soils (terra rossa soil):  undissolved remains of limestones and non-carbonate rocks, eolian influence
  • Karst geomorphology: morphology & lithology & tectonic and time
  • Interpretation and promotion of karst phenomena for public (applicable projects, lectures, exhibitions). Example: exhibition for Postojnska Cave – EXPO Postojna Cave Karst; IPA-EU project for regional cooperation Slovenia/Croatia: Life and water on karst - ŽIVO! (Life)


Research field

  • The basic field of her research work include karst geology, where she study carbonate lithology and weathering, karst and cave sedimentary environments, mineralogy of karst sediments, speleothem chronology and karst geomorphology. She participates in the Institute program Karst Research: in several national and international projects and projects for external customers (for example planning of new highways and railway). Her research work deals mostly with the mineralogical analyses of clastic cave sediments, analyses of mineral and crystalline structure of calcite in caves and paleomagnetic analysis of cave sediments in collaboration with Czech Scientists (see Cobiss). The results obtained are original and new, and have yielded many new insights about the geomorphic evolution of classical karst. She participates in karst and cave research around the world and at conferences as an invited lecturer (e.g. Australia, China, Czech Republic, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indonesia, Brazil, Canada, Philippines and the United Arab Emirates).


Other activity

Leading of applied projects

  • Project ŽIVO! Življenje-voda! (Life –Water; 2014 -2015); leader of Slovenian part. Operational program IPA Slovenia-Croatia 2007-2013
  • Project KUP - Karst Underground Protection (2009 do 2011); leader of Slovenian part. Operational program IPA Slovenia-Croatia 2007-2013
  • Project »Postojna Cave in space and time« (2013-2015); exhibition EXPO Postojna Cave Karst at Postojnska jama d.o.o.
  • Rocks & relief at the project Centre of excellence "FABRICA" (Forum za Adaptacijo in Bogatenje Raziskovalnih rezultatov, Idej in Aplikacij)" (No. EPD; leader of a map
  • Project »Geologija v vrtačah z arheološkimi sondami na trasi (Geology in dolines archaeological sondas on the route) AC Divača – Kozina«  (1997); Leader of contract project
  • Project Trnovski gozd in Gora - I. Faza. (Part of studies for declaration of regional park Trnovski gozd and Gora) (1997); coordinator of contract.
  • Project Speleological studies on highway rout AC Petrinje - Črni kal (1997); coordinator of contract.


Leading of Bilateral projects

  • ARRS Bilateral projects with Czech Republic (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Institute of Geology, Prague):
    • 1998-1999: Research of karst sediments on the example of the Classical Karst, Slovenia;
    • 2001-2002: Evolution of karst and caves based on study of cave fills, Slovenia;
    • 2003-2004 Reconstruction of speleogenesis and karstogenesis from the study of cave fill, Slovenia;
    • 2005-2006: Paleomagnetic studies of sediments in karst areas of Slovenia; in relation to paleotectonic reconstructions;
    • 2009-2010: Karst sediments: tools for the reconstruction of tectonic and geomorphic evolution of karst regions (exemplified on karst territories of Slovenia).
  • ARRS Bilateral projects with Republic of China:
    • 1995-1996: with Institute of Geology China Academy of Science, project 01 - 3 - 03, SLO – 3, title:  Karst Enviroment Protection and Explotation of Cave Reseorces;
    • 1995-1996: with Yunnan Institute of Geography, project 01 - 3 - 05, SLO – 5, title: A cooperative Research on Karst Phenoment’s Preservation, Protection and Large Cave System’s Exploration in Yunnan Province.


Pedagogical activity


  • Postgraduate studies of Karstology, University of Nova Gorica and ZRC SAZU (2004-  ). 
  • Undergraduate Module "Karst Geography of contact areas" (second degree), Faculty of Humanities in Koper University of Primorska: Osnove krasoslovja (Basic of karstology; 2006-2010) and Geomorfologija krasa (Karst Geomorphology; 2006-2010) ter Geomorfologija kraškega površja in jam (Geomorphology of karst surface and caves; 2010-2014).
  • Master's program Karstology, within the framework of the mag. study of the 2nd degree program Earth and Environmental Sciences, Postgraduate School ZRC SAZU: Karst Geomorphology (from 2021)


Supervisor to Young Researcher

  • Supervisor of young researcher Petra Gostinčar (2010-2016)  on Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU, who studies Geomorphological characteristics of karst on contact between limestone and dolomite in Slovenia.
  • Supervisor of young researcher Astrid Švara (2021-2022)  on Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU.


Supervisor at Doctoral thesis

  • GOSTINČAR, Petra, 2016: Geomorphological characteristics of karst on contact between limestone and dolomite in Slovenia: dissertation. Nova Gorica: [P. Gostinčar], 2016. XXI, 276 p.
  • RAMSEY, Carol, 2015: Morphometry and basic ecological characteristics of dolines in unlogged temperate rainforest karst landscapes of Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada : dissertation. Nova Gorica: [C. L. Ramsey], 2015. XXIII, 316.


Supervisor at Master thesis

  • VIDMAR, Suzana. Preučevanja Krasa v osnovni šoli : predlog terenskega spoznavanja Krasa pri šolskih in obšolskih dejavnostih: magistrsko delo. Nova Gorica: 2011. 335 str., ilustr. COBISS.SI-ID 1916155].


Supervisor at Graduate Diplomas

  • MAČUS, Patricija, 2016: Naravna in kulturna dediščina jam Moravškega krasa : diplomsko delo. Koper: [P. Mačus], 2016. 94 p.
  • SOVINC, Mateja, 2016: Predlog krasoslovne učne poti skozi Ponikovski kras : diplomsko delo. Koper: [M. Sovinc], 2016. 82 p.
  • FABJANČIČ, Marinka, 2013: Geomorfološki fenomeni na krasoslovni učni poti v okolici Materije : diplomsko delo. Koper: [M. Fabjančič], 2013. 107 p.
  • VIDMAR, Peter, 2010: Geomorfologija izbranih območij pobočja Trnovskega gozda: diplomsko delo. Koper: [P. Vidmar], 2010, 88 p.
  • RACE, Barbara, 2007: Geomorfologija kraškega površja Občine Divača : diplomsko delo. Koper: [B. Race], 2008. 87 p.
2022: International Union of Speleology Certificate of Appreciation for the book “Karst, Caves and People” and organization of IYCK 2021 celebration at UNESCO HQ (2022)
2016: Recognition of the United Arab Emirates Geographical Association (2016; group member)
2015: International Union of Speleology recognition for the organization of the 50th anniversary of the International Speleological Association (2015)
  • Zupan Hajna, N., 2021. Karst, Caves and People. 1st ed. Ljubljana, ZRC SAZU, Založba ZRC, 171 p. 
  • Lopes Ferreira, R., Bernard, E., Cruz Júnior, F. W. Da, Piló, L. B., Calux, A. S., Souza Silva, M., Barlow, J., Pompeu, P. S., Cardoso, P., Mammola, S., Pipan, Tanja, Zupan Hajna, N., Fišer, C., Trontelj, P., Zagmajster, M., Delić, T., Ford, D. C., et al. 2022. Brazilian cave heritage under siege. Science, 375/6586, 1238-1239.  .
  • Zupan Hajna, N., Mihevc, A., Bosák, P., Pruner, P., Hercman, H., Horáček, i., Wagner, J., Čermák, S., Pawlak, J., Sierpień, P., Kdýr, Š., Juřičková, L., Švara, A. 2021. Pliocene to Holocene chronostratigraphy and paleoenvironmental records from cave sediments: Račiška pečina section (SW Slovenia). Quaternary International, 605–606, 5–24. 
  • Zupan Hajna, N., Bosák, P., Pruner, P., Mihevc, A., Hercman, H., Horáček, I. 2020: Karst sediments in Slovenia: Plio- Quaternary multi-proxy records. Quaternary International 546, 4-19.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., Otoničar, B., Pruner, P., Culiberg, M., Hlaváč, J., Mandić, O., Skála, R., Bosák, P., 2019. Late Pleistocene lacustrine sediments and their relation to red soils in the Northeastern margin of the Dinaric Karst. Acta carsologica, 48/2, 153-171. 
  • Sierpień, P., Pawlak, J., Hercman, H., Pruner, P., Zupan Hajna, N., Mihevc, A., Bosák, P., 2021. Flowstones from the Račiška Pečina Cave (SW Slovenia) Record 3.2-Ma-Long History. Geochronometria. 48/1, 31-45.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., 2019. Dinaric karst - geography and geology. In: White, W. B. (Ed.), Culver, D. C. (Ed.), PIPAN, T. (Ed.). Encyclopedia of caves. 3rd ed. London [etc.]: Academic Press, an imprint of Elsevier, 353-362. 
  • Blatnik, M., Culver, C. D., Gabrovšek, F., Knez, M., Kogovšek, B., Kogovšek, J., Liu, H., Mayaud, C., Mihevc, A., Mulec, J., Năpăruş-Aljančič, M., Otoničar, B., Petrič, M., Pipan, T., Prelovšek, M., Ravbar, N., Shaw, T., Slabe, T., Šebela, S. & Zupan Hajna, N., 2020. Significant findings from karst sediment research. In: Knez M., Otoničar B., Petrič M., Pipan T., Slabe T. (Eds.) Karstology in the Classical Karst. Advances in Karst Science. Springer, Cham.
  • Pawlak, J., Hercman, H., Sierpień, P., Pruner, P., Gąsiorowski, M., Mihevc, A., Zupan Hajna, N., Bosák, P., Błaszczyk, M., Wach, B., 2020. Estimation of the durations of breaks in deposition - speleothem case study. Geochronometria, 47/1, 154-170.
  • Bosák, P, Zupan Hajna, N., 2018. Palygorskite in caves and karsts: a review. Acta carsologica. 47/2-3, 97-108.

Scientific papers

  • Audra, P., Bosák, P., Gázquez, F., Cailhol, D., Skála, R., Lisá, L., Jonášová, Š., Frumkin, A., Knez, M., Slabe, T., Zupan Hajna, N., Al-Farraj, A., 2017: Bat urea-derived minerals in arid environment. First identification of allantoin, C4H6N4O3, in Kahf Kharrat Najem Cave, United Arab Emirates. International Journal of Speleology, 46/1, 81-92. DOI: 10.5038/1827-806X.46.1.2001
  • Zupan Hajna, N., Skála, R., Al Farraj Al Ketbi, As., Šťasný, M., Bosák, P., 2016: Palygorskite from cave sediments: case study from Wadi Haqil, United Arab Emirates. Arabian journal of geosciences, 9/17, 1-11; doi: 10.1007/s12517-016-2721-2
  • Häuselmann, P., Mihevc, A., Pruner, P., Horáček, I., Čermák, S., Hercman, H., Sahy, D., Fiebig, M., Zupan Hajna, N., Bosák, P., 2015: Snežna jama (Slovenia): interdisciplinary dating of cave sediments and implication for landscape evolution. Geomorphology, 247, 10-24; doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.12.034.
  • Al Farraj Al Ketbi, A., Slabe, T., Knez, M., Gabrovšek, F., Mulec, J., Petrič, M., Zupan Hajna, N., 2014: Karst in Ras Al-Khaimah, northern United Arab Emirates. Acta carsologica, 43/1, 23-41; doi: 10.3986/ac.v43i1.579
  • Baioni, D., Murana, A., Zupan Hajna, N., 2014: Karstic morphology in northern Sinus Meridiani, Mars. Geosciences Journal, 18/ 3, 261-268, doi: 10.1007/s12303-014-0003-0.
  • Baioni, D., Zupan Hajna, N., Wezel, F.-C., 2011: Karst landforms in an interior layered deposit within the Coprates Chasma, Mars. Acta carsologica, 40/3, 473-481.
  • Bosák, P., Pruner, P., Zupan Hajna, N., HERCMAN, Helena,  Mihevc, A., WAGNER, Jan, 2010: Križna jama (SW Slovenia): Numerical- and correlated- ages from Cave Bear-bearing sediments. Acta carsologica, 39/ 3, 529-549.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., Mihevc, A., Pruner, P., Bosák, P., 2010: Palaeomagnetic research on karst sediments in Slovenia. International journal of speleology, 39/ 2, 47-60.
  • Pruner, P., Zupan Hajna, N., Mihevc, A., Bosák, P., Otakar, M., Schnabl, P., Venhodová, D., 2010: Magnetostratigraphy and fold tests from Račiška pečina and Pečina v Borštu caves (Classical Karst, Slovenia). Studia geophysica et geodaetica, 54/1, 27-48.
  • Baioni, D., Zupan Hajna, N., Wezel, F.-C., 2009: Karst landforms in a Martian evaporitic dome, Acta carsologica, 38/1, 9-18.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., Pruner, P., Mihevc, A., Schnabl, P., Bosák, P., 2008: Cave sediments from the Postojnska-Planinska cave system (Slovenia): evidence of multi-phase evolution in epiphreatic zone. Acta carsologica, 37/1, 63-86.
  • Horáček, I., Mihevc, A., Zupan Hajna, N., Pruner, P., Bosák, P., 2007: Fossil vertebrates and paleomagnetism update of one of the earlier stages of cave evolution in the Classical karst, Slovenia: Pliocene of Črnotiče II site and Račiška pečina Cave. Acta carsologica, 36/3, 453-468.


Scientific monograph

  • Zupan Hajna, N., Mihevc, A., Pruner, P., Bosák, P., 2008: Palaeomagnetism and magnetostratigraphy of Karst sediments in Slovenia. Carsologica, 8, Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 266 p.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., 2003: Incomplete solution: weathering of cave walls and the production, transport and deposition of carbonate fines. Carsologica, 3, Postojna: ZRC Publishing, 167 p.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., Ravbar, N., Rubinić, J., Petrič, M.(Eds.), 2015: Life and water on Karst : monitoring of transboundary water resources of Northern Istria. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, VII, 151 p.
  • Knez, M., Slabe, T., Gabrovšek, F., Kogovšek, J., Kranjc, A.,  Mihevc, A., Mulec, J., Otoničar, B., Perne, M., Petrič, M., Pipan, T., Prelovšek, M., Ravbar, N., Šebela, S.,  Zupan Hajna, N., Bosák, P.,  Pruner, P., Liu, H., Knez, M. (Ed.), Slabe, T. (Ed.), 2016: Cave exploration in Slovenia : discovering over 350 new caves during motorway construction on classical karst, (Cave and karst systems of the world). Cham [etc.]: Springer, 324 p., doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-21203-6. 
  • Gabrovšek, F., Knez, M. (Ed.), Kogovšek, J., Mihevc, A., Mulec, J., Otoničar, B., Perne, M., Petrič, M. (Ed.), Pipan, T., Prelovšek, M., Slabe, T. (Ed.), Šebela, S. (Ed.), Turk, J., Zupan Hajna, N., 2015: The Beka-Ocizla cave system: karstological railway planning in Slovenia, (Cave and karst systems of the world). Cham [etc.]: Springer, 102 p., doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-04456-9.


Chapter in the book

  • Zupan Hajna, N., 2015: What is karst?. In:  Zupan Hajna, N. (Ed.), et al. Life and water on Karst: monitoring of transboundary water resources of Northern Istria. Ljubljana: Publishing ZRC, 6-14.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., Mihevc, A., Pruner, P., Bosák, P., 2012: The age of cave sediments in Slovenia. In: ANDRIČ, Maja (Ed.). Dolgoročne spremembe okolja 1, Opera Instituti Archaeologici Sloveniae, Ljubljana: Inštitut za arheologijo ZRC SAZU, Publishing ZRC, 89-100.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., 2012: Dinaric karst: geography and geology. In: White, W. B. (Ed.), Culver, D. C. (Ed.). Encyclopedia of caves. 2nd ed. Amsterdam [etc.]: Academic Press, 195-203.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., 2011: Human intervention in the karst underground through quarries: examples from Slovenia. In: Prelovšek, M. (Ed.), Zupan Hajna, N. (Ed.): Pressures and protection of the underground karst: cases from Slovenia and Croatia. Postojna: Karst Research Institute ZRC SAZU, 2011, 93-100.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., 2010: Geology. In: Mihevc, A. (Ed.), Prelovšek, M. (Ed.), Zupan Hajna, N. (Ed.). Introduction to the Dinaric Karst. Postojna: Karst Research Institute at ZRC SAZU, 14-19.
  • Zupan Hajna, N., 2004: Karst in Slovenia. In: Orožen Adamič, M. (Ed.). Slovenia: a geographical overview. Ljubljana: Association of the Geographical Societies of Slovenia: Publishing ZRC, 39-44.


cave sediments
karst geomorphology
karst geology
incomplete dissolution of carbonates in the cave environment
promotion of caves and karst