Paleoclimate & Biogeology

The Paleoclimate & Biogeology research group is engaged in multidisciplinary research on the interaction between climate, the oceans, the lithosphere and biosphere. Using chemical and biological proxies, we reconstruct paleoclimates, ecosystem dynamics and evolutionary processes, and refine the geologic time scale by applying an integrated stratigraphic approach. We are particularly interested in constraining the causes of abrupt and cyclic, (sub)orbital-scale, climate change in the past and its relation to life on earth.

Research

Paleoclimatology

Reconstruction of past climates comprises the study of sedimentary successions and their physical, biogeochemical and paleontological characteristics to unravel the environmental processes that lead to their formation on timescales from decades to tens of millions of years. We  apply so-called proxy records, to estimate changes in sea water temperature, salinity and global ice volume.  By means of time series analyses we can constrain the transient, cyclic, stochastic and non-linear behavior of these climate-related variables, which in turn are necessary to identify forcings, feedbacks and critical transitions within the climate system.

Contact person: Prof Luc Lourens

Proxy development & Clumped Isotope Geochemistry

We work with a variety of proxy methods based on stable isotope and trace metal geochemistry of biogenic carbonates to reconstruct climate variability. Currently a strong focus within the group lies on the development and application of the so-called carbonate “clumped isotope” thermometer. Our group is specialised on the analysis of small samples and we apply this methodology not only for paleoclimate reconstructions but also other geoscientific research questions.

Contact person: Dr Martin Ziegler

Stratigraphy & Geologic Timescale

The reconstruction of paleoclimates goes hand in hand with the increased resolution of age control using the calibration of the sedimentary succession and proxy records to the astronomically forced quasi-periodic insolation changes as calculated by astronomers. Yet it has become possible to quantify the environmental and evolutionary changes within a highly dated sedimentary succession, through the integration of both marine and continental biostratigraphic, magnetostratigraphic and cyclostratigraphic data. This enables not only a solid platform to study the effects of climate change on marine and sedimentary environments, but it also provides constraints on the accuracy of astronomical solutions. 

Contact person: Dr Frits Hilgen

Paleontology & Evolution

Paleontology is the science of ancient life in relation to the past environment. It is an interdisciplinary science that interacts not only with evolutionary biology, paleobotany and paleoclimatology, but also with geology, sedimentology and biostratigraphy. Our research effort focusses on the evolution of vertebrates - mostly mammals, but dinosaurs and other groups are not omitted - and their use in biostratigraphy.

Contact person: Prof Jelle Reumer

Teaching

Members of the Paleoclimate and Biogeology group teach both bachelor (BSc) courses in Earth Sciences and master (MSc) classes of the Earth, Life and Climate (ELC) program. We also supervise MSc and BSc projects on a wide variety of subjects. 

The master program Earth, Life and Climate (ELC) focuses on the reconstruction of past oceans and climate. The first year is primarily devoted to courses, while second year is primarily spent to an independent research and/or traineeship. The courses of ELC could also be followed by students from the Marine Sciences master program. 

Bachelor courses

Master courses

Staff
Address
Princetonlaan 8a
3584CB Utrecht
Address
Princetonlaan 8a
3584CB Utrecht
Address
Princetonlaan 8a
3584CB Utrecht
Address
Princetonlaan 8a
3584CB Utrecht
Address
Princetonlaan 8a
3584CB Utrecht
Address
Princetonlaan 8a
3584CB Utrecht
Address
Princetonlaan 8a
3584CB Utrecht
Supporting Staff