Detailed information about the course

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Geobiology – a Microbial World


June 2023

Responsable de l'activité

Anneleen Foubert


Dr Patrick Meister, University of Vienna, AT


Dr Patrick Meister, University of Vienna, AT


This course addresses the fundamental principles of geobiology, the approach using modern microbiological methods in combination with information from the geological record to understand how life established and interacted with the physical earth. The course will start with a short introduction into microbiology, then will apply this knowledge to understand the role biogeochemical processes through time. We will discuss some of the concepts of the origin of life and how it evolved through the Precambrian, which was largely a microbially dominated world. As a practical part, a field trip will focus on authigenic/microbial structures in the Phanerozoic rock record visible in the Alps.

Course outline:

Day 1: Introduction; techniques in microbiology

Day 2: Biogeochemistry: interactions between microbes and the environment

Day 3: LUCA and the early life on Earth, Biogeochemical revolutions through Earth history

Day 4-5: Two-day Field trip with vans and one overnight stay

Possible content of the field trip: - Spring travertines, Schwefelbergbad, Galterntal and other local occurrences around Fribourg - Jurassic iron oolites: processes and paleoenvironment - Phosphorites, hardgrounds, diagenesis and stromatolites (Cretac. Garschella Fm.) - Spring travertine showing well developed crystal fans (pseudo-stromatolites) can be observed at Surava, Albula valley. At this location there is also a cavern where dolomite was mined and combusted to produce dolomitic lime. Furthermore, there are sulfur springs showing white filaments of sulphide-oxidizing bacteria





Deadline for registration 01.05.2023
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