Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Physics of Environmental Archives

Funding Bodies

DFG Supports our work in quite a significant number of projects for which we are very grateful

Supports our students, schools, and conferences as well as fellowships, which we greatly acknowledge

Ministery of Science, Research and Art
(Baden Württemberg)
has supported our infra-structure significantly, for which we are most thankful.

Research Perspective and Projects

You can find here some brief descriptions of our research projects and some perspectives were we like to go. As stated on the entrance page the Physics of Environmental Archives explores the climate messages left in various sedimentary archives such as corals, speleothems, calcareous tufa and marine sediments. We are involved in conducting high precision U-series and radiocarbon dating and we focus on the cycles of trace elements and isotopes to fingerprint the climate information we intent to retrieve.

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Scientific Projects

Our scientific projects are presently predominantly funded through the German - Science - Foundation (DFG) where you can find abstracts and details on those at the DFG - Gepris page of Prof. Norbert Frank. We are grateful that the German Science Foundation has approved numerous projects from the funding of large infra-structure instruments (Isotope ratio mass spectrometer and multi-collector inductively coupled plasma source mass spectrometer) to scientific research on trace element and isotope cycles, chronology and radiocarbon calibration (see below). Further funding comes through the Heidelberg Graduate School of Fundamental Physics, supporting us through many different ways including PhD fellowships and support for the students to attend schools and conferences. Most importantly however, the HGSFP provides an excellent environment in which young researchers can broaden their skills and feel the science.

Cold-water coral archives: Our central research focus since 2013

This project devlops and uses geochemical and geochronological tracers to investigate mid-depth water mass dynamics in the temperate east Atlantic stored in the fossil cold-water coral skeletons. We are most interested in the framework forming coral species L. pertusa and M. oculata, which build a framework through coral mounds that provide semi-continuous records of climate at unprecedented age precision. Central to our poject is the use of Radiocarbon and Nd-isotopes, which provide measures of the waters ventilation age and the water mass provenance as far back as 40 thousand years before present. U-series dating of corals yield accurate time scales as precise as several years to decades. To tackle the influence of nutrient cycles on corals much effort has gone in the recent development of Ba-isotopes as novel tracer. This work was essentially conducted in a DAAD funded cooperation with colleagues in Oxford (Prof. Gideon Henderson and his team). Freya Hemsing has conducted this research as part of her PhD and now leads the effort as young postdoctoral researcher. Overall, this project is a joined effort with numerous national and international partners at MARUM , Bremen (Prof. Dierk Hebbeln, Dr. Claudia Wienberg) at GEOMAR, Kiel (Dr. Marcus Gutjahr, Prof. Martin Frank), at Oxford University, UK and at Bristol University, UK (Prof. Laura Robinson) as well as with colleagues in France at GEOPS, University Paris-Saclay (Prof. Christophe Colin) and LSCE . Gif-sur-Yvette (Dr. Eric Douville and Dr. nadine Tisnerat-Laborde). This project has presently no consolidated funding, but is supported from various sources, including the HGSFP , the Ministry of Research and Art (Baden Württemberg), the University Heidelberg, and the DFG.


Epsilon precision U-series ages: Our second major Research focus since 2013

Through this PhD project we explors the feasibility of ultra high precision disequilibrium U-series dating of marine and continental carbonates. The goal is to further push analytical limits of modern mass spectrometry and propose new technical pathways of producing uniquely precise U-series chronological ages. Prove of concept has been achieved on speleothems from high alpine caves with high U contents and in the near future we hope to tackle the quality of decay constants of thorium and uranium need to further improve age accuracy. Dr. Jennifer Arps has made major progress regrading this project as part of her excellent PhD and the project is in future carried forward by Dr. Sophie Warken as postdoctoral researcher. Our present efforts have been achieved in cooperation with some international partners such as Prof. L. Edwards, Minnesota who hosted a research visit of Jennifer Arps in his enspiring laboratories. Moreover, Prof. Hai Cheng at Xi'an Jiaotong University, China helped to bring this project foreward as well as the team in France at LSCE . This project has also no consolidated funding, but is supported from various sources, again including the HGSFP , the Ministry of Research and Art (Baden Württemberg), the University Heidelberg, and the DFG.


DFG project: 900ka of Nd-isotope changes in the deep North Atlantic

900ka of Nd-isotope changes in the deep North Atlantic : The PhD project is centered on the study of past deep water dynamics in the North Atlantic spanning the last 1 Million years. Based on core ODP site 1063 it is foreseen to generate a uniquely resolved record of past water mass provenance at the interface of North Atlantic deep water and Southern Component Water linked to major climate change, i.e. the glacial - interglacial terminations. Of particular interest is the systematic change across the terminations possibly reflecting water mass reorganization aa well as the differences between interglacials, with a focus on the MIS-11 and MIS-19 as Modern analogues. This project is conducted by Jasmin Link in cooperation with Partners at GEOMAR Kiel (Dr. M. Gutjahr, and Prof. M. Frank), GEOW Heidelberg (Dr. J. Lippold). It is funded through the DFG grant: FR1341/5)


Accomplished Projects

ETIS - Part I 2015

Funded by the Structure and Innovation fund of Baden Wuerttemberg and the DFG a new Laser - Ablation Multicollector inductiely coupled plasma source mass sprectrometer facility was established in Heidelberg. We conduct research on ultra-high precision U-series dating using these instruments and we develop isotopic tracers to determine the environmental conditions of past ocean dynamics or matter and energy transport through the climate system.

ETIS - Part II 2016

Funded by the Structure and Innovation fund of Baden Wuerttemberg and the DFG a isotope ratio mass sprectrometer with a particular multi-cup system and coupled to a Gasbench II was established in Heidelberg. We conduct research on stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in carbonates and air and the instrument is used by the teams of Dr. Tobias Kluge and Dr. Martina Schmidt to conduct clumped isotope studies of carbonates and atmospheric air isotope measurements.

DFG-project 'Neoglacial' (2013 - 2017)

This project was recently completed and provided a new climpse of the changes in deep Atlantic circulation since the last glacial maximum (LGM) via the Nd-isotope composition of marine deep sea sediments. These isotopes allow tracing the provenance and mixing of water masses during he past 20 thousand years and beyond. This project was a joined effort between our team, the Emmy Noether Group on Quaternary Ocean Dynamics (Joerg Lippold , GEOW Heidelberg) and partners at GEOMAR, Kiel (Dr. Marcus Gutjahr, Prof. Martin Frank). The project was carried out by Patrick Blaser and was funded by the German Science Foundation Grant FR1341/3 as part of the SPP IODP . Several Publications and the PhD-Thesis of Patick Blaser provide the key results. The report can be found upon approval by the DFG here.


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