Department 3: Geochemistry

The Department Geochemistry investigates the sources, sinks and rates of change of inorganic and organic chemical species in System Earth from deep to shallow, past and present. The chemical processes under study are highly complex in their heterogeneity over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, with physical and biological agents playing key roles for transport and as catalysts. Our research portfolio addresses mineral and fossil energy resources in the context of plate tectonics, sedimentary basin evolution, weathering and erosion, and paleoclimate based on our core competencies in analytical and experimental geochemical methods, field work and numerical modelling.

Sections of the Department Geochemistry:

Methods, Competences and Infrastructure

Methods and competences of Department Geochemistry comprise an internationally outstanding combination and spectrum of analytical infrastructure.

In Section Inorganic and Isotope Geochemistry the central facilities and equipment for cleaning, crushing and grinding rock samples, for mineral separation (gravity and magnetic techniques) and for the production of thin and polished sections and grain mount are maintained for the entire GFZ. In addition the following labs are operated and provide support for the community: Noble Gas Laboratory, Electron Microprobe Laboratory, Isotope Geochemistry and Geochronology Laboratories, Microscopy and Microthermometry, X-Ray Laboratory (RFA und RDA), ICP-AES- und ICP-MS-Laboratory and the Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (SIMS). Important future tasks include the development of new geochemical techniques and methods as well as of specific measurement tools. Data quality and related technology transfer is continuously improved.

Section Organic Geochemistry operates laboratories for Pyrolysis-(GC-MS) and Source Rock Analysis, Ion chromatography, Gas Chromatography, Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS), Isotope Ratio Monitoring-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (IRM-GC-MS), Thermovaporisation-(GC-MS), Infrared Microthermometric equipment for fluid inclusion research and a Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry (FT-ICR-MS). In particular the latter entails a large innovative potential as it allows complex polar compounds to be identified and thence yielding insights into subsurface reaction pathways. In addition numerical tools for petroleum system modelling are available.

The Helmholtz Laboratory for the Geochemistry of the Earth Surface (HELGES) is operated by the Section Earth Surface Geochemistry and comprises new state of the art clean laboratories for sample preparation and measurements of cosmogenic nuclides (10Be and 27Al) and stable isotopes of metals and metalloids (currently Li, Mg, Si, Fe, Sr) in geological and environmental sample materials, such as sediments, rocks, river water, soils, vegetation. The cosmogenic nuclide sample preparation is part of a joint effort with CologneAMS – the German DFG-funded accelerator mass spectrometry facility. Metal isotopes are measured with multicollector ICP-MS and the section has in-house built a femtosecond laser ablation system for measuring metal isotope ratios and trace elements at the micrometre scale. HELGES furthermore operates a “low level element analytic” ICP-MS and OES laboratory facility for analysis of trace and major elements in Earth surface water and biological samples.

Section Fluid Systems Modelling develops and operates a flexible numerical simulation framework that provides efficient workflows for integrating data and software packages to carry out coupled process simulations of multiphase fluid flow, geomechanics, geochemistry and heat transport. It is applied to quantify and assess chances and risks utilizing georesources and the geological subsurface in terms of efficiency and sustainability.

Information on infrastructure is provided on the specific section web-pages.

Michael Kühn
Prof. Dr. Michael Kühn
Sonja Martens
Department Coordinator
Dr.-Ing. Sonja Martens
Heinrich-Mann-Allee 18/19
Building HMA 18/19, Room 3/4
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1965
Jenny Meistring
Jenny Meistring