School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Biogeochemistry and the Environment

Biogeochemistry and the Environment

Biogeochemistry and the Environment is a major research theme for us. It underpins a research agenda that is multidisciplinary. It covers a wide range of temporal and spatial scales.

Research strengths

We have particular strengths in:

  • microbial ecology
  • mineralogy
  • organic, inorganic and isotope geochemistry

We work with natural samples and experimental set-ups. We combine techniques from these disciplines to address major issues.

These relate to the past and present evolution of surficial Earth environments.

Modern environments

Our research into modern environments currently addresses topics as diverse as:

  • biogeochemical cycling in soils and peatlands
  • studies of redox-sensitive environments, including anoxic sediments and waters
  • multi-scale processes involved in atmosphere-land-ocean coupling
  • carbon cycling in tropical rainforests

The latter is through microbial, isotopic and organic characterisation. This is of key biogeochemical reactions in the Earth system.

Ancient environments

This work also underpins much of our research into ancient environments. We are investigating a range of major events in Earth history.

We look at periods of extreme climate change. These include the Paleogene-Mesozoic (Oceanic Anoxic Events, hyperthermals).

We also look at the most recent periods of global warmth (the warm Pliocene). And we conduct research around glacial-interglacial cycles of the most recent Ice Ages.

Planetary science

We are involved in the ongoing scientific exploration of Mars linked to the ExoMars programme. This involves:

We are a member of the UK Cosmochemical Analysis Network (UKCAN) that hosts a wide range of world class analytical equipment for the analysis of extraterrestrial materials.

Industry focus

Our focus extends to biogeochemical processes that are relevant to industry. This includes designing and implementing biosensors to track organic pollutants in wastewater treatment streams.

We investigate the rates of uptake and release of methane and other trace gases (i.e. H2, N2O, CO etc.) during present day sand movement on Mars.
We investigate the rates of uptake and release of methane and other trace gases (i.e. H2, N2O, CO etc.) during present day sand movement on Mars.