Section 3.2: Organic Geochemistry

Head of Section: Dr. Kai Mangelsdorf

In Section 3.2 we study the distribution, composition and changes in organic material that take place over geologic time. Our investigations span the time from the beginning of life on Earth more than three billion years ago to today. In this sense, organic geochemistry can be viewed as forensic science that combines aspects of geology, chemistry and biology and applies them to a colossally long time scale. Molecular and microscopic fossils provide the indicators on which we base our reconstructions of past events and ecosystems. We not only perform basic research, but also work closely with petroleum industrial partners to investigate the processes which lead to the development of fossil fuels.

Our research falls into five categories:

We are investigating the complex links between sedimentary basin evolution and paleoclimate change, studying fluid migration and leakage through and from porous media over geological time and over tens of kilometres, and retrieving molecular archives of past events.

We are using novel biotracers to investigate the comings and goings of surface and subsurface microbial ecosystems as living conditions change.

Organic and aqueous fluids serve as reactant and transport media, bringing about the cycling and recycling elements along fractures and within rock pore systems.

Understanding the rates and extents of physical and chemical processes in low permeability systems - micro-Darcy to nano-Darcy range - is particularly challenging.

Targeted method developments are helping us to better resolve and quantify the sources, sinks and transformation rates involved in all of the above


Profile photo of  Dr. Kai Mangelsdorf

Dr. Kai Mangelsdorf
Organic Geochemistry

Building B, room 425
14473 Potsdam
tel. +49 331 288-1785


Profile photo of   Claudia Engelhardt

Claudia Engelhardt
Assistance of Organic Geochemistry

Building B, room 426
14473 Potsdam
tel. +49 331 288-1781