The interplay between Geology and Biology has shaped the Earth from the early dawn of life 3.8 billion years ago.
Biological processes can act as a geological force by altering chemical environments, but life itself must respond to changing global conditions.
On microscopic as well as global scales, the metabolic activity of organisms may induce the precipitation of minerals and the accumulation of ores, but also the destruction of geological structures, for example through the biocorrosion of minerals and rocks.
Combining modern methods, we extract geobiological information not only from visible remains of organisms, but also from organic molecules, rock fabrics, minerals, isotopes and other tracers.
Moving beyond the borders of the classical core disciplines, we identify cause-and-effect chains and synergisms between the geo- and the biospheres, and how they have been driving the evolution of life in the present and in the past.
Development of Early Life and Organic-matter-controlled
Rock- and Mineral-forming Processes
Basic research performed by the Courant Research Centre of Geobiology will provide new insights into biologically influenced rock and mineral formation, prebiotic metabolic processes, the origin of life, and deep phylogenetic relationships of pro- and eukaryotes. Key innovative research questions include unravelling of the conditions, limits, and biodiversity of the deep biosphere in oceanic and continental crusts, reconstructions of evolutionary relationships of ancestral organisms ("living fossil" animals and plants), and investigation of molecular processes of biomineralization and (paleo)diversity of benthic communities. New and refined methods of biosignature research are in demand, will be developed in this project and applied to the most spectacular and intriguing geobiological research goals of the next decade.