Biogeochemistry of benthic microbial transformation processes – past, present, and future

The degradation of organic matter in marine sediments is a key aspect of the marine carbon cycle, and it couples the elements carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, iron, and manganese in a web of largely microbially mediated redox reactions.
This research theme addresses the transformation processes between these elements. We quantify mass exchange rates between sediment and seawater, study the geochemical imprint of these processes in sediments, and use the geochemical record to reconstruct the intensity and variations of these processes in the past.
The analytical tools for this work include ship-based, laboratory-based and in-situ analyses of water column, pore water, and sediment constituents, experimental studies using radioisotopes and stable isotopes and stable isotope geochemistry of sedimentary and dissolved species.
Currently, work focuses on:
• the regeneration of nutrients from marine sediments and the associated nutrient stoichiometries
• the dynamics of methane in marine sediments
• the modification of the stable sulfur and oxygen isotope composition during early diagenesis
• sequential carbon transformation of high-molecular organic matter
• diagenetic reaction-transport modeling

Contact information:
Volker Brüchert
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Department of Geological Sciences
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