Lipid biomarkers in Cold Seeps of the Pacific Northwest ( USA ): Origin, Heterogeneity and Molecular Fossils (2007-2011)

This project, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), focuses on the distribution patterns of lipid biomarkers in recent and fossil Cold Seeps carbonates.
We are implementing a miniaturized technique that is based on micro-sampling, extraction and/or direct vaporization of organic substances from very small amounts (10-50 mg) of geological samples, and subsequent GC/MS-analysis. Thereby, the scale of organic-geochemical techniques can be approximated to the microscopic range, thus enabling a corresponding analysis of biomarkers and petrographic traits.

The goal is to better understand the relationships between distinctive mineral precipitates and chemolithotrophic microbial consortia. This could reveal new insights into the biological turnover of methane and the mechanisms of the associated rock-forming processes.
In turn, additional informations are expected on the biological sources and significance of widespread methane-related biomarkers both, in modern environments and in the fossil record.

Further reading

Peckmann, J. and Thiel, V., 2004. Carbon cycling at ancient methane-seeps. Chemical Geology, 205: 443-467.

Peckmann, J., Goedert, J.L., Thiel, V., Michaelis, W. and Reitner, J., 2002. A comprehensive approach to the study of methane-seep deposits from the Lincoln Creek Formation, western Washington State, USA. Sedimentology, 49: 1-19.

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Picture shows the principle of ToF-SIMS Picture shows the principle of ToF-SIMS