A particular focus of our group is the study of organic life traces that can be extracted from ancient rocks and sediments. These ‘biomarkers’ commonly derive from the building blocks of cellular lipids. Some alteration products of the original ‘biolipids’ synthesized by living organisms are found as ‚geolipids‘ in many sedimentary rocks and crude oils (Abb.1). 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 phylogeny (chemotaxonomy)
  • postsedimentary processes (taphonomy, biodegradation, thermal maturation)


Prof. Dr. Volker Thiel