Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction

Paleoenvironmental reconstruction in geochemistry tries to reconstruct temporal changes in surface earth biosphere, geosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere via changing chemical signatures in earth sediments. In the process of formation and dependent on their depositional environment all sediments interact with these one or more of these spheres leading to physical, chemical and biological processes influencing the abundance of elements and their isotopes within the sediment.

O2rigin (ERC funded)

This project aims at investigating the interaction between different reservoirs of our planet that led to the redox contrast between Earth’s interior and its surface. Particularly interesting are factors such as plate tectonics, mantle melting, volcanism and continent formation and how they contributed to or controlled atmospheric evolution. We study the long and short-term subduction recycling of surface redox signatures and the respective impact on the evolution of the mantle, as preserved in the stable isotope record of mantle-derived minerals through geological time. To address these issues, the project combines magmatic petrology, (micro-scale) mineralogy of highly siderophile and moderately volatile elements, geochronology and “non-traditional” stable isotope geochemistry. In particular high-precision Se isotope and coupled Se-Te concentration analysis is newly developed. Financial support for this project comes from a Starting Grant of the European Research Council to Dr. Stephan König.

Crust-Mantle interaction

Earth’s crust, as we see it today, is a result of the dynamic evolution and behaviour of our planet. Research projects in this theme investigate processes within the continental crust as well as on its surface. We use zircon provenance studies to trace sedimentary deposition and mixing of different source materials. Intracrustal processes, such as granite genesis and the formation of layered igneous intrusions, are investigated in order to better understand material transfer within and into the crust.

Environmental Geochemistry

Environmental Geochemistry tries to explain and quantify global elemental cycles (e.g. Carbon, Water, etc.) with or without anthropogenic, i.e. human, impact. The relevant processes are mostly controlled by low temperature (e.g. -30 to +50°C), variation in redox and pH and are often bacterially mediated. We use state of the art as well as traditional geochemical tools such as, e.g. ICP-Mass Spectrometry, ultra clean labs, gas-source Mass Spectrometry and X-ray spectroscopy, to measure trace element patterns and isotope ratios to fingerprint sources and sinks and to identify transport pathways.