Section 3.5: Interface Geochemistry

(Stefanie Lutz)

Research Overview

The Interface Geochemistry research group at GFZ is a very dynamic and interdisciplinary team, with expertise and topics ranging from biogeochemistry, materials science, chemical physics and inorganic chemistry. Our research team addresses the quantitative elucidation of “interfacial reactions” in biogeochemical processes ranging from surface and (near-)subsurface environments, and from the nano- to global-scales. We use experimental and field-based studies and combine it with several state-of-the-art analytical techniques (e.g., electron microscopy, high energy X-ray techniques) to gain fundamental understanding of these interfacial reactions and their impact on the biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nutrients and trace elements in the Earth’s surface.

Specifically, we focus on three main research themes:

  1. Experimental Mineral Chemistry and Geochemistry: Reactions at mineral surfaces greatly influence several key (bio)geochemical processes including biomineralization, nutrient and trace element cycling and contaminant dynamics. We study the mechanisms and kinetics of mineral nucleation and growth and how these processes impact the speciation, sequestration or release/transport of various elements in Earth’s surface and (near-)subsurface environments.
  2. Biodiversity and Geochemistry of Arctic Glacial Environments: Polar ecosystems are key to understanding how climate change affects our planet. We study the biotic and abiotic influences on glacier melt dynamics in Arctic environments. Through this we can better constrain the processes occurring in these environments which will allow us to better inform global models related to climate change processes.
  3. Electron Microscopic Studies on Geomaterials: Electron microscopy allows characterization of geomaterials at the microscopic to nano-scale. 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 are developing novel high-resolution electron imaging and spectroscopic tools, as well as complex sample environments (e.g., liquid phase and cryogenic TEM, cryo-SEM), for the characterization of geomaterials.

Our Research Team


Liane G. Benning
Section Head
Prof. Liane G. Benning
Interface Geochemistry
Building C, Room 224
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-28970