Section 3.5: Interface Geochemistry

Current Research Projects

Helmholtz Recruiting Initiative Projects

Clay Mineral Formation at Ambient Conditions

Our research in clay formation mechanisms focuses on the interface between a primary mineral and the solution as the mineral surface is first amorphized and then converted into a clay. Alternatively, a direct precipitation pathway is considered. We are interested in determining what conditions are necessary for clay formation to occur and how do changes in the reaction environment affect clay formation.

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Geochemistry and Carbon Dynamics of Arctic Ecosystems
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Iron Minerals and their Impact on Nutrient Cycling and Contaminant Dynamics

Our current research is mainly focused on the formation and/or transformation of Fe-bearing minerals and how these reactions affect the availability of nutrients (e.g., Corg, P, Si) and mobility of contaminants (e.g., As, Cr, Pb, Se) in natural and engineered environments.

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Microbial ‘Omics’ Focusing on Biodiversity and Physiology of Bacteria and Micro-eukaryotes

We are evaluating snow and ice algal communities, and their associated microbiome (i.e. bacteria, archaea, fungi) in various Arctic and Alpine settings by using a multi-disciplinary approach. We are also conducting high-throughput sequencing to reveal community compositions and dynamics as well as using a metabolomics approach to understand how their metabolome responds to changing environmental conditions.

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Struvite Crystallization

One of our current projects in this research theme aims to elucidate the homogeneous and heterogeneous crystallization pathways of struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) – a prime magnesium phosphate mineral that can be recovered from wastewaters.

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High-Energy X-ray Scattering Studies on Mineral Crystallization

In this project, we apply the scattering methods: small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) and total scattering (with pair distribution function (PDF) analysis) to study the formation and transformation pathways of various mineral phases from solutions.

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Development of Liquid Phase Transmission Electron Microscopy for Geosciences

In this project, we aim to understand how to minimize or exploit beam effect in the liquid cell to visualize the dynamic processes that occurs at the nanoscale in native mineral/solution interfaces.

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Third-Party Funded Projects


DEEP PURPLE is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) Synergy Grant. This project aims to establish the factors that control ice algal blooms that contribute to the darkening of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and ultimately the rapid melting of the ice sheet. DEEP PURPLE will quantify the synergies between the biology, chemistry and physics of ice algae micro-niches in rotting, melting ice, and examine the combination of factors which stabilize them.

Project period: 2020-2025

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EXCITE (Electron and X-ray microscopy Community for structural and chemical Imaging Techniques for Earth materials) is funded by Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructures. This project brings together 15 leading institutions across Europe that develop and use electron and X-ray imaging techniques for Earth science applications.

Project period: 2021-2024

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The aim of the project is to improve our understanding on how different additives used in gypsum board formulations affect the kinetics and mechanisms of gypsum crystallization and the microstructure of the resulting gypsum matrix. This project is in collaboration with ETEX.

Project period: 2022-2025

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Past Research Projects

Black and Bloom is funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Large Grant. This project aims to unravel how dark particles (black) and microbial processes (bloom) darken and accelerate the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Project period: 2016-2021

Metal-Aid (Metal oxide Aided Subsurface Remediation: From Invention to Injection) is funded by the Horizon2020 Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN). This project aims to develop new mineral-based technologies to treat soil and groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents and heavy metals. Project period: 2016-2020

MicroArctic (Microorganisms in Warming Arctic Environments) is funded by the Horizon2020 Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN). This project aims to advance our understanding of changes and adaptation in Arctic microbial communities and their links to weathering and biogeochemical element and nutrient cycling in fast warming Arctic settings. Project period: 2016-2020

NanoSiAl (Silica and Alumina Nanophases – The Building Blocks for the Ground under our Feet) was funded by the Horizon2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship (MSCA-IF) awarded to Dr. Tomasz M. Stawski. Project period: 2017-2019

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