Dr Christian Maerz
Lecturer in Geosciences


I am a marine geochemist studying the composition of modern and ancient aquatic sediments. My major aims are to understand biogeochemical element cycles (e.g., those of C, S, Fe, Mn, P, and various trace metals), and to transfer this understanding into application of geochemical proxies for paleoenvironmental reconstructions.


Trained as a geologist with a focus on sedimentology, I transformed over time into a marine geochemist, biogeochemist, or sediment geochemist.


Diploma (MSc) in Geology, University of Heidelberg, 2004: Mud Mounds and Associated Facies in the Upper Carboniferous of the Pisuerga Area (Cantabrian Mts., N-Spain)

PhD in Geosciences, University of Bremen 2008: Rapid redox changes across major climate transitions – impact on the preservation of paleoceanographic proxies

Previous Positions

2012-2013: DFG Return Fellowship, Microbiogeochemistry group (hosted by Prof. Brumsack), Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), University of Oldenburg, Germany

2010-2012: DFG Research Fellowship, Geosciences group (hosted by Prof. Poulton and Prof. Wagner), School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences (CEGS), Newcastle University, United Kingdom

2008-2010: Postdoc, Microbiogeochemistry group (Prof. Brumsack), Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), University of Oldenburg, Germany

2005-2008: PhD student (Graduate College EUROPROX), Geochemistry & Hydrogeology group (PD Dr. Kasten, Prof. Schulz), Department of Geosciences, University of Bremen, Germany

2005: Scientific assistant, Sedimentology group (Prof. Bechstädt), Geological-Paleontological Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany

1999-2004: Student in Geology, Geological-Paleontological Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany


American Geophysical Union

European Geosciences Union

Geologische Vereinigung

Geochemical Society


Major research interests

My research interests are broadly divided into two main fields:

a)   Biogeochemical element cycles (C, P, Fe, S, trace metals) in modern and ancient water bodies, pore fluids, and sediments.                               

b)   Development and application of inorganic geochemical proxies for improved palaeoenvironmental interpretations of sedimentary archives.

Studying those two fields in combination will improve our understanding of complex and variable physical and (bio)geochemical processes in the natural environment. In this context, I am specifically interested in the development of depositional processes, biogenic matter productivity and preservation, diagenetic processes, and redox conditions through space and time.

I apply inorganic-geochemical methods to (pore) waters, sediments and sedimentary rocks, analysing dissolved species as well as the contents and speciations of various elements. To access recent sample material, I regularly participate in research cruises (e.g., Meteor, Heincke, Polarstern, IODP drillship JOIDES Resolution). For studying older sediments/sedimentary rocks, I sample drill cores and outcrop material.

I study both modern and ancient marine sediment, from the Holocene back to the Cretaceous, and with a wide geographical spread, reaching from the subtropical Indian Ocean to the Central Arctic.

My current research focuses on present and past anoxic marine environments (i.e., Black Sea, Oceanic Anoxic Events), and on the high northern latitudes (i.e., North Pacific, Bering Sea, Central Arctic Ocean).

As inorganic geochemistry cannot answer all questions, I follow a multi-disciplinary approach. Only a combination of different techniques will bring us closer to understanding the complex interactions between geology, biology and chemistry that shape the marine environment. I collaborate with organic geochemists, mineralogists, sedimentologist, micropalaeontologists and modellers.


Funded projects

Quantifizierung der Beckenentwicklung Südkantabriens in Devon und Karbon. Proponent: Bechstädt, DFG-financed, Diploma project, Heidelberg

Rapid redox changes across major climate transitions - Impact on preservation of sedimentary paleoceanographic proxies. Proponents: Kasten/Zonneveld/De Lange, DFG-financed within International Graduate College EUROPROX - Proxies in Earth History, PhD project, Bremen/Utrecht, 2005-2007

Major and minor element signatures of OC-rich Paleogene sediments from Lomonosov Ridge (IODP Leg 302). Proponent: Brumsack, DFG/IODP-financed, Postdoc project, Oldenburg, 2005-2009

Manganese cycles in Quaternary sediments of the Arctic Ocean - Climate signals or diagenesis? Proponents: März/Brumsack, DFG/IODP-financed, Postdoc project, Oldenburg, 2009-2010

Inorganic geochemistry of Pliocene-Pleistocene sediments from the Bering Sea (IODP expedition 323) – Studying feedbacks of productivity, nutrient availability, and redox conditions in the northernmost Pacific. Proponent: März, DFG/IODP-financed, Research/Return Fellowship, Newcastle upon Tyne (UK)/Oldenburg (Germany), 2010-2013.

Reconstructing Pliocene-Pleistocene paleoenvironmental conditions and biogeochemical element cycling in the Gulf of Alaska (Northeast Pacific) (Proponent: März, NERC/IODP-financed, Directed Grant, Newcastle upon Tyne), 2014-2015.

Supervision of BSc, MSc and PhD projects

Maren Seibt (BSc Environmental Sciences, Oldenburg): “High-resolution geochemical study of Upper Cretaceous black shale sediments (Demerara Rise, ODP Leg 207, Site 1261) via X-Ray Fluorescence analysis“, 2008.

Alexandra Stratmann (MSc Chemistry, Oldenburg): “Inorganic-geochemical characterisation of a sediment core (Kastenlot PS 72/340-5) from the southern Mendeleev Ridge (Eastern Siberian Sea, Arctic Ocean)”, 2008/2009.

Ann-Katrin Meinhart (MSc Chemistry, Oldenburg): “Inorganic geochemistry of surface sediments on an East-West transect across Mendeleev Ridge (81°N, Eastern Siberian Sea, Arctic Ocean)”, 2009.

Nneamaka Fernilla Atuanya (MSc Petroleum Geochemistry, Newcastle): "A geochemical approach to reconstruct the development of anoxia/euxinia in a Cenomanian/Turonian shelf basin off subtropical West-Africa (Tarfaya OAE2)", 2010.

Alistair Burn (MSc Petroleum Geochemistry, Newcastle): “Organic matter-rich Paleogene deposits in the central Arctic Ocean – Reconstructing paleoenvironmental conditions and hydrocarbon generation potential”, 2011.

Kelsey Beard (MSc Petroleum Geochemistry, Newcastle): “Changes in ocean chemistry during formation of a Cretaceous marine black shale: The sulphur isotope perspective”, 2012.

Suha Aqleh (PhD, Newcastle): "Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of Jordan oil shale based on inorganic geochemistry data", 2011-2014.

Alexandra Fleming (MSc Environmental Consultancy, Newcastle): "Cycling of trace metals (Zn, Pb, Cd) in River Tyne sediments - new insights from pore water analyses", 2014.

Brooks Thacker (MSc Environmental & Petroleum Geochemistry, Newcastle): "Nutrient availability to microbes in Arctic soils - The micro-nutrients iron and nickel", 2014.

Emmanouil Giampouras (MSc Environmental Consultancy, Newcastle): "Cold water coral reefs as biogeochemical reactors and environmental archives of phosphorus", 2014.

Athanasia Trikakou (MSc Environmental Consultancy, Newcastle): "The chemical composition of diatom frustules - new insights into the global phosphorus and iron cycles", 2014.

Nipada Santha (MSc Environmental & Petroleum Geochemistry, Newcastle): "Quantifying organic matter bound to Mn and Fe (oxyhydr)oxides in River Tyne surface sediments", 2015.

Jorge Cueto (MSc Petroleum Geochemistry, Newcastle): "Distribution of early diagenetic carbonate layers in marine sediments worldwide", 2015

Carol Mahoney (PhD, Newcastle): "Geochemical characterisation of the Cretaceous source rocks of the Eastern Columbia", since 2014.

Mark Zindorf (PhD, Newcastle): "Reconstructing carbon and nutrient cycling in the Northeast Pacific Ocean over the past 15 million years", since 2014.

Research Cruises

RV Meteor Cruise M 63/1 (Cape Town - Cape Town), "AFRIDEEP", 24.01.-30.02.2005, South-western Indian Ocean, Chief Scientist Dr. J. Pätzold.

RV Heincke Cruise HE 226 (Bremerhaven - List - Bremerhaven), 24.04.-03.05.2005, North Sea, Chief Scientist Dr. C. Hass.

RV Meteor Cruise M 65/1 (Dakar - Dakar), 11.06.-02.07.2005, Atlantic off North-West Africa, Chief Scientist Dr. S. Mulitza.

RV Meteor M 72/1 (Istanbul - Istanbul), 05.02.-20.02.2007, Black Sea, Chief Scientist Dr. R. Seifert.

RV Polarstern Expedition ARK XXIII/3 (Reykjavik - Bremerhaven), 12.08.-17.10.2008, Central Arctic Ocean, Chief Scientists Dr. W. Jokat, Prof. Dr. R. Stein.

JOIDES Resolution Expedition 323 (Victoria – Yokohama), 05.07.-04.09.2009, Bering Sea, Co-Chief Scientists Prof. Dr. K. Takahashi, Prof. Dr. A.C. Ravello.

JOIDES Resolution Expedition 341 (Victoria - Valdez), 29.05.-29.07.2013, Gulf of Alaska, Co-Chief Scientists Prof. Dr. J. Jaeger, Prof. Dr. S. Gulick.

RV Polarstern Expedition ARK XXIIX/1 (Bremerhaven - Lonyearbyen), 19.05.-28.06.2015, Barents Sea, Chief Scientist Dr. I. Peeken.



ACE1101 - The Global Environmental System

From 2015:

CEG1601 - Earth Science Skills

CEG2603 - Structural Geology

CEG2604 - Global Element Cycling

CEG3601 - Biogeochemistry