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 Institute of Geosciences
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Marine Geosciences and Paleontology

Evolution and Marine Climate History

Sediments on the sea floor provide an archive of climate and ocean change over millions of years. Marine Paleoclimatologists and Paleontologists study these records in annual-to-millennial resolution to decipher the interaction between biosphere, ocean, and atmosphere and to test pertinent models for climate prediction.
Research at our Institute is focussed on the following fundamental questions:
  • Which processes control past and present natural climate variability?
  • How fast is natural climate change?
  • What is the influence of opening and closing ocean gateways?
  • How does global climate change control biodiversity and the evolution of marine species?

Marine Geochemistry

The emphasis of the "Marine Geochemistry" work group is on research into the geochemical cycles of the seafloor - water - atmosphere system, in particular the processes and timescales of mass transfer.
Areas of particular interest and active mass transfer are the hydrothermal systems that occur at spreading centres. These are characterised by:
  • spectacular black and white smokers, from which fluids as hot as 360°C are vented
  • hydrothermal mineralisation and the formationof new sulfide ore deposits
  • venting of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane
Research is also undertaken on both intraplate and island arc volcanoes, e.g. Tahiti and Tonga in the Pacific Ocean. These studies aim to clarify:
  • melting processes in the mantle
  • the development of the crust
  • the dynamics of the Earth's interior

Coast and Shallow Water

Two thirds of world population live closer than 50 km to the coast. Therefore, coastal zones and shelf seas are key areas with respect to climate variability and human activities. Coasts and shallow waters are a special to pic of research at IfG. Ongoing global climatic change is evidenced by sea-level rise and by increase in the frequency and intensity of storms. Together with intensive human use of resources and habitation we observe rapid reorganisation in the shore zone. Investigation of:
  • natural sea-level fluctuations and
  • sediment dynamics in the coastal and shelf zone are the prerequisites
  • to mark changes in coastal evolution and
  • to make prediction for coastal management tasks.
Coastal research requires often the efforts of research-divers. Training facilities exist at IfG for more than 30 years.