Section 3.5: Interface Geochemistry

Today, Monday, June 21, the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences opened the "GeoBioLab" with a ceremony. The building was constructed in about two and a half years and cost 16.1 million euros. It offers laboratories and offices for two sections of the GFZ as well as a server room on slightly more than 1500 square meters of main floor space.

More details can be found here.


Mercury pollution is an issue of global concern due to its toxic effects. High levels have already been measured in Arctic organisms - with worrying effects on ecosystems and the food chain. So far, the Greenland Ice Sheet has not been taken into account as a part of the Arctic mercury cycle. Now, researchers led by Jon Hawkings  of the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam and Florida State University show that meltwaters in the southwest of Greenland transport considerable amounts of mercury into the Arctic Ocean. Due to the large quantities detected, the researchers assume that they are of geological origin. They present their measurements in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.

More details can be found here.


Dr. Runa Antony  from the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, India has recently joined the “Interface Geochemistry" section 3.5 as a Humboldt Research Fellow. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation awards Fellowships to scientists from abroad with above-average qualifications.

More details can be found here.


Congratulations are in order!

Robin Wojcik  successfully defended his PhD last February 5, 2021. Great PhD defense with a grade of magna cum laude. Congratulations, Dr. Wojcik!


Researchers from the University of Leeds (UK) led by postdoctoral fellow Jenine McCutcheon (now University of Waterloo, Canada) and Liane G. Benning , German Research Centre for Geosciences Potsdam GFZ, have identified an important nutrient source for the glacier ice algae: phosphorus from locally generated mineral dust. This finding helps to better predict future developments of algal blooms and ice melt and to optimise climate models. The study was published today in Nature Communications.

More details can be found here.


Deep Purple on Ice – Research on the Greenland Ice Sheet During the Pandemic

Insights into the EU project Deep Purple, fieldwork during the COVID-19 pandemic and doing research in a camp on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Written by Ph.D. students Rey Mourot  (GFZ Potsdam), Laura Halbach (Aarhus University) and Eva Doting (Aarhus University).


Trace elements such as iron, manganese and zinc are an integral part of the biogeochemical processes on the Earth's surface. As micronutrients, they play an essential role for the growth of all kinds of organisms and thus the Earth's carbon cycle. Below ice sheets, which cover around ten percent of the Earth's land surface, larger quantities of these substances are mobilised than previously assumed. This is shown by new data from Greenland and Antarctica, which were collected and analysed by an international research team led by Jon Hawkings  from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam and Florida State University (USA).

More details can be found here.


Together with the interim Scientific Director of the German Research Center for Geosciences, Prof. Dr. Niels Hovius, Brandenburg's Minister of Science, Dr. Manja Schüle, has now given the go-ahead for the commissioning of the new transmission electron microscope, which was supported by the federal state of Brandenburg with 2.8 million euros from the European Structural Funds (ERDF) and 500,000 euros from the GFZ.

More details can be found here.


Congratulations to Dr. Jeffrey Paulo H. Perez  who is awarded with the Friedrich-Robert-Helmert Prize 2020 for his doctoral thesis, "Green rust formation and reactivity with arsenic species".

More details can be found here.

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Congratulations are in order!

Jeffrey Paulo H. Perez successfully defended his PhD at the Freie Universität Berlin last 17th of January 2020. Great PhD defense with a grade of summa cum laude. Congratulations, Dr. Perez!


Congratulations to Matthias Winkel  who has won the prize for “Best Arctic presentation” at the 6th APECS International Online Conference 2020 for his presentation “Seasonal Variation in Microbial Community Compositions and Functions on Icelandic Glacier”.


"A new study led by James Bradley  of the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ and Queen Mary University of London provides a surprising answer: Microbes in the seabed survive on far less energy than has been shown ever before. The international team is publishing its results in the journal Science Advances."

More details can be found here.


"Liane G. Benning  has won the grant with the project "DEEP PURPLE". Together with colleagues, she is investigating the relationship between geology, geochemistry, biology and climate on the basis of the increasing algal bloom on Arctic snow and ice surfaces. On Greenland, the teams from Aarhus, Bristol and Potsdam are investigating how glacial algae grow and interact with their icy habitat. The pink to purple microorganisms darken the surface of the ice sheets and thus accelerate the melting of the glaciers." 

More details can be found here.

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This is increasingly a problem in the Arctic, Alpine and Himalayan glaciers. Blooms of red snow and brown ice are turning up in Antarctica also." - The British newspaper @guardian featuring the @GFZ team including @LianeGBenning in an interesting piece on how algae increase the darkening and melting of the Greenland Ice Sheethttps://theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/18/tiny-algae-ground-zero-greenland-melting-glaciers.

Currently, there are no funded open positions available. However, please contact Prof. Liane G. Benning regarding potential fellowships to apply for.