Dr Geoffrey Abbott
Senior Lecturer in Organic Geochemistry

  • Email: geoff.abbott@ncl.ac.uk
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6608
  • Address: School of Civil Engineering and Geoscieces
    Room 3.09
    Drummond Building
    Newcastle University
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE1 7RU


Dr. Geoff Abbott has more than three decades of research experience in organic geochemistry. He is a member of the Geoscience group which is now incorporated into the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. His research focuses on the carbon cycle in peat, soils, ancient sediments and waters. This work therefore has a potential impact on mitigating climate change. His teaching focuses on biomarkers, kinetics and analytical geochemical methods.


European Association of Organic Geochemists (EAOG);
Founding member of British Organic Geochemical Society (BOGS).

Roles and responsibilities

Associate Editor for the journal Organic Geochemistry;

Associate Editor for the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology.


Research Interests

Dr. Geoff Abbott's research interests and expertise currently encompass the following areas: (i) the fundamental processes controlling carbon cycling in peat, soil, litter, and waters within peatland, forest, moorland and grassland ecosystems; (ii) the structure and function of asphaltenes where the recent application of acoustic spectroscopy has been particularly exciting; (iii) the identification, fates and the reaction kinetics of biomarkers in sedimentary rocks, kerogens, asphaltenes and coals; and (iv) the molecular characterization of early land plants and the unravelling of past climate and environmental change during phytoterrestrialisation (Ordovician-Silurian-Devonian).

Esteem Indicators (since 1998)

Invited Speaker to Royal Society discussion meeting on "The Rhynie Chert - our earliest terrestrial ecosystem revisited", London, UK, 6-7 March 2017.

Invited Speaker at Creative Workshop - McCord Centre for Landscape, Newcastle, UK, 27th May 2016 (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/mccordcentre/assets/documents/McCord_WS_2016_05_27_program.pdf)

Speaker at 21st International Symposium on Analytical & Applied Pyrolysis, Nancy, France, 9-12 May 2016.

Invited Speaker at Liverpool John Moores University Natural Sciences seminar series seminar series 1st April 2015.

Speaker at 20th International Symposium on Analytical & Applied Pyrolysis, Birmingham, UK, 19-23 May 2014.

Invited Speaker at Northumbria University Geography and Environmental Sciences seminar series 13th November 2013.

Invited Speaker at the John Ray Society seminar series, University of Cambridge March 7th 2013. 

Plenary Speaker at 19th International Symposium on Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, Linz, Austria, 21-25 May 2012.

Invited Speaker at the University of Amsterdam, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) seminar series, September 17th 2010. 

Co-convenor of session on "Exploring Biomolecules in Terrestrial Carbon Sinks": Goldschmidt 2010 Conference, Knoxville, USA, June 13 - 18 2010.

Member Committee of the 15th International Humic Substances Society Meeting (IHSS15) Tenerife, Spain 27 June - 2 July 2010.

Member of Scientific Committee and Session Chair for 18th International Symposium on Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis (PYR08), Canary Islands, Spain 18-23 May 2008.

Invited Speaker at Trinity College Dublin, Department of Geology seminar series February 20th 2009.

Invited Speaker at 18th International Symposium on Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis (PYR08), Canary Islands, Spain 18-23 May 2008. 

Speaker at 17th International Symposium on Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis (Pyrolysis 2006) conference in Budapest, Hungary 21-26 May 2006. 

Session Chair (the Analytical Pyrolysis of Soil and Natural Organic Matter session) at the 17th International Symposium on Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis (Pyrolysis 2006) conference in Budapest, Hungary 21-26 May 2006.

Speaker at the Society of Organic Petrology (19th meeting) with the Canadian Society for Coal and Organic Petrology CSCOP-TSOP 2002, Banff, Canada 31 August - 4 September 2002.

Speaker at 223rd American Chemical Society, Orlando, USA 7-11 April 2002.

Keynote Speaker at the Symposium on Biological Chirality, Szeged, Hungary 27-31 August 2000. 

Convenor of an international meeting on ‘biomass pyrolysis’ held in Norway 26-27 November1998.

Reviewer for many international funding agencies including the NSF.

External Examiner for Chemistry and associated programmes at the University of Plymouth (2002 - 2006).

Coordinator for the Marie Curie RTN in Biogeochemistry at Newcastle University.


Associate Editor Organic Geochemistry 2002 -

Associate Editor Journal of Marine and Petroleum Geology 2008 - 



Invited Speaker at Pyrolysis 2013 seminar CDS Analytical Inc. (based in Oxford Pennsylvania USA) at Analytix, Boldon Business Park, Tyne & Wear UK 22nd October 2013


Current funding includes:
1) Geochemical control of organic matter turnover in peatlands: Long-term security or short-term vulnerability of a major carbon store?
Dr Geoff Abbott (with Belyea (Queen Mary) and Cowie (Edinburgh)
NERC NE/E004709/1
2008-2011, £566,834
Peatlands cover vast areas of the world - around 4 million square kilometres - and store about as much carbon as do the living plants in tropical rainforests. For the past 5,000-10,000 years, the plants living on peatlands have been fixing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it as dead plant matter - "peat". In a future warmer, and possibly drier, climate, this stored carbon could be respired back to the atmosphere or leached into rivers. Will increased temperatures and decreased rainfall lead to rapid loss of the peatland carbon store? If so, then the extra carbon released from peatlands could enhance "greenhouse" warming further, leading to a runaway positive feedback on global climate. Or will rapid climate change trigger a shift to peatland types that accumulate peat (and store carbon) at a faster rate than present-day peatlands? If the latter, then peatlands could buffer further climate change.

2) Lignin in the soil-water continuum.
Dr. Geoff Abbott (with Dr JAJ Dungait & Dr. R. Bol, Rothamsted Research, North Wyke Research)
Period of Award: 1 Oct 2009 - 30 Sep 2013

NERC Award Type: DTG - Directed
Value: £67,772

3) Carbon turnover in forest and grassland soils – will global warming turn carbon sinks into sources?
Dr. Geoff Abbott (with Dr. M. Perks (Northern Research Station) and Dr. E Vanguelova (Alice Holt Lodge) both from Forest Research (Forestry Commission))
Period of award: 1 Oct 2008 - 30 Sep 2012

NERC Award Type: DTG - Directed
Value: ~ £70,000

4) Molecular organic geochemistry and controls on facies architecture – a case study from N. African oil pteroleum source rocks (Ordovician of northern Gondwana).
2nd supervisor Dr. Geoff Abbott. 1st Supervisor Dr. H. Armstrong (Durham University) Funded by ENI (Italy)

5) Molecular characterization of DOC from peat waters. 2nd supervisor
Dr. Geoff Abbott. 1st Supervisor Dr. G. Cowie (Edinburgh University) Funded by NERC

6) Structure and function of asphaltenes.
Dr. Geoff Abbott.
Funded by PTDF (Nigeria)
Period of award: 1 May 2010 - 30 Sep 2014

Postgraduate Supervision

Current (First Supervisor):

Jon Bradley, PhD, 'Exploring northern soil and peat biogeochemistry as a function of climate change'

Jasmine Black, PhD, 'Effects of climate change on soil organic matter (SOM) C dynamics and turnover in the Rupununi region, Guyana'

Kerry Simcock, PhD, 'The effects of climate change on a northern peatland: greenhouse gas sink or source?

Alex Svalova, PhD, 'Ultrasound spectrometry of the aggregation of asphaltenes during the formation of water-in-oil emulsions'

Reuben Agbidi, PhD, 'The structure and function of asphaltenes in petroleum'

I am always interested in discussing opportunites for postgraduate study within my group. A list of projects currently on offer can be found by clicking on each of these links:






 but I am also open to discussing other potential projects. Funding can be secured from a variety of sources, including an annual competition for research council funding.

Postgraduate Teaching

I teach the following modules:
Induction Chemistry for all Geochemistry postgraduate courses;

CEG8621: Molecular Marker Compounds  - Module Leader; 

CEG1601 : Basic Natural Science Skills in the Context of Earth Science Issues - Module Leader;

CEG8625: Chemical Analysis of Organic Matter  - Module Leader.