Section for Geobiology

Research director of the Section for Geobiology, Professor Minik Rosing

The aim of the geobiology section is to study the interactions between Earth’s lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere, as expressed in the geologic record and in extant environments. Life’s activities have had a defining influence on the evolution of Earth. Insight into the interactions between life and Earth’s physical environments is the key to managing contemporary global problems, decoding the origins of life, and for finding life elsewhere in the universe.

Research focus

Our research is based on decoding information about Earth’s surface environments stored in geologic materials. We study structures from nanometre to planetary length-scales developed during timespans from seconds to billions of years. Our main techniques are combinations of field geology, Earth system modelling and the development of new tools applied at the elemental, isotopic, molecular and mineralogical scale.

Main findings

Pioneering the use of heavy metal stable isotopes to describe the oxygenation state of ancient oceans and understanding global-scale biogeochemical feedbacks at play in the Earth system:
Reorganisation of Earth's biogeochemical cycles briefly oxygenated the oceans 520 Myr ago

Studying Earth’s earliest environments and the role of life in defining first order parameters in the Earth system:
No climate paradox under the faint early Sun

Using nano-geochemistry to document the antiquity of life on Earth:
Elements of Eoarchean life trapped in mineral inclusions