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CEG3606 : Biogeochemistry

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Geoffrey Abbott
  • Lecturer: Dr Martin Jones
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To further develop an understanding of the vital role that organisms play and have played throughout geological time in cycling elements throughout the Earth system. This module will also illuminate the way in which human activity is rapidly changing the integrated planetary system using the methods of chemistry, geology and biology. The module also follows on from the basic introduction to microbiology and microbial diversity given in CEG2607. The overall aim is to understand that biogeochemical processes, both micro and macro, leave distinct and measureable chemical signatures in the geological record that can be exploited to provide valuable information about present and past environments.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered will include: Biological processes of geochemical and environmental significance, the carbon cycle, organic matter production, preservation and degradation, chemical methods for characterising organic matter, hydrocarbons, palaeoenvironmental studies and the application of proxies for reconstructing past environments. These topics will be covered in a series of lectures, laboratory practical classes investigating organic molecules preserved in petroleum. The basic format will be:
The relationship of biogeochemistry and earth system science.
The great acceleration.
The first near-catastrophe.
Science, Darwin and evolution.

The carbon cycle.
Chemical composition of organic matter.
Analytical biogeochemistry including
Soxhlet extraction
Column chromatography
Thin Layer Chromatography
Gas chromatography
Biomarkers in petroleum and natural systems.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Online non synchronous lecture material via Canvas
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion260:3013:00Revision for Semester 1 Assessment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Coursework Preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical48:0032:00Present in Person (PiP)
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading42:008:00Research material to enhance learning
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops41:004:00Present in Person (PiP)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1102:00102:00Background Reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Online lectures will impart knowledge on the key biogeochemical processes and the interpretation of the biomarkers that are used to identify these processes

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M100Data interpretation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Data analysis report to test knowledge, learning and interpretation of understanding the origin and fate of biological marker compounds. The report will assess the application of knowledge and critical thinking by interpretation of biomarker data taken from "real world" examples.

Reading Lists