Fall 2021

Seminar in Biogeochemistry

Listed in: Geology, as GEOL-450

Formerly listed as: GEOL-45

Moodle site: Course


Anna M. Martini (Section 01)


Through biogeochemical cycles microbes influence the chemical composition of all of our habitable environments. They are found in the most extreme environments on Earth, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of our oceans as well as in the deep subsurface of Earth’s crust. In this seminar, we will examine tracers and proxies for microbial activity present in rock, sediment, soil and porewater. Environments to be studied include hydrothermal vents, deep sedimentary basins, early Earth and possible extraterrestrial habitats. We will survey the major biologically relevant elements of the periodic table (C, O, S, N, Fe, P) and examine how these elements cycle through the environment, focusing on stable isotopic tracers of biological processes. Students will gain experience with field and laboratory techniques and we will emphasize the current scientific literature in discussions. Three hours of class per week plus field and laboratory times to be scheduled with the professor.

Requisite: CHEM 151 or GEOL 301 or consent of the instructor. Fall semester.  Professor Martini.


Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Lab Science Course, Quantitative Reasoning


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2011, Fall 2015, Spring 2019, Fall 2021