Biomarkers and Biosignatures

Organic Geochemistry group

A particular focus within the Geobiology group is the study of organic life traces that can be extracted from the sedimentary record. These ‘biomarkers’ commonly derive from the building blocks of cellular lipids. Some alteration products of such ‘biolipids’, once synthesized by living organisms, are found as ‘geolipids‘ in many sedimentary rocks and crude oils. Even after millions of years, these molecules can reveal important information about many geoscientific problems, for instance:


• (paleo-)biocommunities in aquatic environments
• (paleo-)distribution of organic matter sources (e.g. terrigenous vs. planktonic)
• environmental setting (e.g. paleotemperature, -salinity, -redox conditions)
• biogeochemical processes (metabolic pathways)
• postsedimentary processes (taphonomy, biodegradation, thermal maturation)