The Interface Geochemistry research group at GFZ is a very international, dynamic and interdisciplinary team, addressing research topics spanning biogeochemistry, materials science, chemical physics and inorganic (geo-)chemistry. Our focus is on the quantitative elucidation of “interfacial reactions” driving and controlling biogeochemical processes shaping our planet's surface and (near-)subsurface environments from the nano- to the global-scale. We combine experimental and field-based approaches with state-of-the-art analytical electron and X-ray characterization techniques and gain fundamental knowledge about interfacial reactions and their impact on the cycling of carbon, nutrients and trace elements in abiotic and biotic systems.
Specifically, we focus on three main research themes:
- Mineral Chemistry and (Bio)Geochemistry: Reactions at mineral fluid-microbe interfaces and surfaces affect all (bio)geochemical processes on Earth and elsewhere. Our focus in this topic is primarily on biomineralization, nutrient and trace element cycling and contaminant dynamics. We study mechanisms and kinetics of mineral nucleation and growth and evaluate how these processes impact or are impacted by the speciation, sequestration or release/transport of key inorganic and organic compounds.
- Biodiversity, Function and Geochemistry of Glacial Environments: The fast changing polar ecosystems are a consequence of global climate change and drive sea level rise. We study the combined biological and geochemical/ mineralogical mechanisms that govern snow and ice melt dynamics primarily in Arctic settings. Our results help ground crucial (bio)albedo parameters used in global climate model predictions.
- Electron Microscopic Studies on Geo(bio)materials: We specialize in the characterization of a wide-range of minerals including, but not limited to, silicates, (oxyhydr)oxides, sulfides, sulfates, carbonates and phosphates. In addition, we focus on the characterization of complex systems where soft-hard (microbe-mineral) interfaces play the fundamental role in shaping reactions in laboratory produced and natural samples. We develop novel high-resolution electron imaging and spectroscopic tools, linked to complex sample environments (e.g., liquid phase and cryogenic TEM, cryo-SEM), for the characterization of all kinds of geo-bio-materials.