Geobiology and Minerals Section – University of Copenhagen

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Geobiology and Minerals Section

This section explores the chemical variety of Earth through space and time. We investigate the impact of life on the chemical and physical evolution of Earth, and the corollary influence of environment on the evolution of Life. Further, our mineralogical research focuses on the investigation of structure and properties of minerals and related synthetic materials of technological interest at atomic resolution.

From a Geobiology perspective, we seek to understand the co-evolution of the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere over Earth history. We use mineral chemistry, isotope chemistry, sedimentary structures, and fossils in the geologic record to re-construct chemical and physical environments of past ecosystems. Our research emphasizes the importance of understanding geological processes in the context of the chemical influence of life, both in modern and ancient environments, and viewing life, water, air and rock as components of an open and integrated Earth system.

Our research in Mineralogy covers experimental and theoretical methods with in situ analyses of changes in mineral structure under varying physical conditions. We use in-house laboratory equipment for X-ray diffraction under high pressures and temperatures as well as large external facilities (synchrotrons and neutron sources). The XRD Laboratory also serves as one of the key mineralogical facilities of Geocenter Danmark with services in mineral identification and quantification.

Research Areas

  • Oxygenation of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans
  • The role of global environmental change during mass extinction events
  • Element cycling between Earth’s biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere and mantle
  • The origin and evolution of Earth’s oceans and continents
  • The geologic consequences of and evidence for photosynthetic life
  • Isotope biogeochemistry (H, C, S, Mo, U)
  • Crystal structure of minerals
  • Behavior of mineral structure under varying pressure and temperature corresponding to various planetary environments of mineral formation
  • Focused application of crystal structure research on the geology of north Europe and Greenland