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Biogeochemistry and the Environment

Biogeochemistry and the Environment

We work on important biotic-environment linkages that operate on molecular to global scales. We look at these today and through geological time.

Core research focus

A core focus is microbially-driven processes. This has broadened to the role of plants and animals in biogeochemical cycling.

We make innovative use of biomarkers to understand Earth surface/subsurface processes. These include subsurface petroleum migration and biodegradation. Information on specific geochemical processes and paleoenvironmental conditions is not preserved other than in the geological record.

We've shown trace metals play a critical role in biodegradation of oil contamination. This provides new insights into remediation strategies. We have traced the ecological recovery from major events such as the K-T extinction.

New insights from cold environments

Our work on extreme cold environments on Earth provides new insights. We're seeing the geomechanical processes that help sustain microbial communities. This provides new insights into the possibility of life on Mars.

We're tackling one of the most pressing problems in managing soil carbon stocks. From boreal peatlands to tropical forests we're working to understand how local scale processes link to catchment scale.

Understanding nitrogen and carbon cycling

Our work on understanding nitrogen and carbon cycling in these environments has led to changes in management of:

  • oil palm plantations
  • human-modified tropical forests

It is being used to revise IPCC estimates of large, field-scale studies of carbon and nitrogen cycling at catchment to regional scales.

Biogeochemistry and the environment projects

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