Organisation profile

The group GEOL studies the evolution of the environments throughout Earth history. The topics encompasses paleoclimatic research in the last few million years, essentially by investigating the continental record and second documenting the origins and consequences of major biological and climatic changes throughout geological time. Cratering processes by asteroid and comet impacts on Earth (or other planet) constitutes a major research topic together with the study of meteorites to understand formation and evolution of planetary bodies. The analytical tools used are stable isotope (H, O, C, N) and trace element geochemistry. There is also a growing accent on the use of other isotopes systems such as Cr, Lu-Hf etc. Besides these major research fields, attention is also devoted to Sr-isotope geochemistry, as well as hydrological, biogeochemical and environmental changes. In addition, there is a significant interest in exobiology and the origin of life on Earth and other planetary bodies. In term of research, GEOL emphasizes strong national but especially international collaborations and participates in several large-scale international projects. The analytic approach used by GEOL is unique in Belgium and relies on experimentation and the measurements of isotopic ratios in various materials. The GEOL-ANCH stable isotope laboratory hosted at the VUB contains: 3 Gas Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometers (IRMS) with various peripherals for measurements of H, N, C and O isotopic ratios in rock, fossil, sediment, water and organic matter. Thanks to a 2010, Hercules financing a Picarro Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy for D/H and 18O/16O analyses in waters and liquids was added in 2011. These stable isotopes are powerful tracer-tools, with a broad range of application in geology, hydrology, biology, environmental sciences, chemistry, archeology, often resulting in challenging inter-university projects and international collaborations. Stable isotope fractionation allows identifying and quantifying past climatic changes, or physico-chemical modification affecting low and high temperature mineralogical or chemical systems. Their signatures can also be used as a tracer of various processes in hydrogeology, cosmochemistry, archeology or biogeochemistry. This methodology is used to investigate selected "events" throughout Earth history and is often coupled with geochronology (Ar-Ar, U-Th or Rb/Sr methods) to place the observed changes in a rigorous time frame. Together with Ghent University, Analytical Chemistry and Dept. of Geology at the KULeuven, GEOL is a partner in the Multi-Collector Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (2007 ZWAP financing) for isotopic ratios of non-gaseous elements installed in a state of the art laboratory at Ghent University.

Contact information

Pleinlaan 2
  • Fax: +32-2-6293635
  • Phone: +32-2-6293394

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