On the traces of the ocean's history

In January 2016 BASE-LiNErs have successfully carried out a field trip to La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain in order to collect Pajaudina atlantica Logan, 1988 for cultivation under laboratoy conditions at GEOMAR. Pajaudina atlantica is endemic to the Canary Islands and is recorded from overhangs and caves in shallow waters as well from deep sea habitats.

The cultivation of Paujaudina atlantica starts

In Januray, 2016 the cultivation of Pajaudina atlantica Logan, 1988 started at the facilities of GEOMAR, where BASE-LiNE Earth investigates the incorporation (partition coefficient) during growth of certain redox sensitive elements in cultured and living brachiopods to also better understand the inherent biomineralization processes and mechanisms, which will enable us to apply the trace element and isotope systems to fossil archives.

A hunt for Palaeozoic brachiopods

In May 2016 BASE-LiNE Earth researchers participated on a ten-day fieldtrip with the aim to find Devonian and Carboniferous brachiopods which can be used for geochemical analyses.
Collection locations include fossil sites in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ottawa and multiple sections in central New York State. During the successful fieldwork, hundreds of brachiopod specimens and multiple fossil gastropods and bivalves were collected. Stable isotope and clumped isotope measurements will be obtained in order to study the diagenetic processes that could have affected the shells. The data can be then used to help the reconstruction of the Phanerozoic sea temperatures from the best preserved specimens.
The samples are available to all researchers of the BASE-LiNE Earth consortium and from outside institutions as well, upon request.

BASE-LiNE Earth Field Trip — Review

As part of the BASE-LiNE Earth program, ESRs made a field trip in June to collect brachiopod samples in the Karavanke Alps of Austria/Slovenia to add to the collaborative project collection. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the field trip served as an excellent team building activity which also allowed ESRs to collaborate scientific ideas and put their own projects into a broader context within the BASE-LiNE Earth network.

Leading the trip was BASE-LiNE Earth partner, Dr. Albrecht Leis along with a colleague and expert in the regional geology of Carinthia, Dr. Walter Poltnig from the Joanneum Research.  

Prior to the official beginning of the trip itself, ESRs were given the opportunity to make a visit to the light isotope laboratories of the Joanneum Institute and a tour of the facilities of the Institute of Applied Geosciences at the Graz University of Technology. This allowed the students to familiarize themselves with the laboratories and equipment which will be available for their potential future use within their projects.

The field trip left Graz on the 7th of June, starting with a walk up a local hill Gösting where ESRs observed brachiopod containing Devonian limestones. Unfortunately, the brachiopods were too highly altered to be of use for analytics, however were placed within a geological context to start familiarizing ESRs with Phanerozoic sedimentary geology of the Styrian region. In the evening a coach was taken to Bad Eisenkapppel in Carinthia, which would serve as a base for the remaining days to explore the Geopark Karavanke, sharing its name with the mountain range of the region.

On the second day of the trip ESRs ascended the mountain Hochobir. Once reaching the peak of Hochobir, Dr. Walter Poltnig gave a talk on the regional geology explaining features observable from the vista. After descending from the peak of Hochobir, ESRs spent time examining exposed fossiliferous Triassic Carbonate “Raibl” beds. Brachiopods found within this unit were collected for future analysis and potential use within the respective BASE-LiNE Earth projects.

For the final day of the trip on the 9th of June, ESRs crossed the border into Slovenia to visit the decommissioned Mežica lead-zinc mine situated within Triassic Carbonates. Geology of the mine and surrounding region were explained to the ESRs followed by a kayaking tour of the flooded lower levels of the mine. This was a truly unique experience which provided a novel way to explore the geology of the mountain. Upon exiting the mine, the trip went back to Graz where it ended with a fairwell dinner.

The field trip was successful with its goal of collecting brachiopod samples and strengthening relationships between project members, moreover it was fun and educational, receiving some very positive feedback from those who were involved.

Field-trip booklet

Field-trip timeline

ESOF (EuroScience Open Forum) 2016 in Manchester, UK

Manchester, 23 - 27 July, 2016. the seventh EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) has taken place. ESOF is a biennial, pan-European, general science conference dedicated to scientific research and innovation. Each conference aims to deliver stimulating content and lively debate around the latest advancements and discoveries in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. More information on ESOF and the program of the 7th ESOF are available here.

MSCA Satellite Conference 2016 in Manchester, UK

This year’s theme is “Researcher and Society”, we will reflect on the mission of the researcher vis-à-vis society, his/her moral duty to share his/her knowledge with the general public, and to be ethical and transparent when presenting scientific data. More information on MSCA Satellite Conferences and the program of the 2016 event in Manchester are available here.

13th European Workshop on Laser Ablation (EWLA)

One of the BASE-LiNE Earth fellows attended the 13th European workshop on laser ablation (EWLA), which was held on July 12-15th 2016 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The EWLA is a biennial conference where the international scientists experienced in laser-based microanalytical techniques are gathered together to share the latest progress in the field.

The workshop started by a hands-on practical course in LA-ICP-MS imaging, where the theoretical and practical aspects of the method as well as the applications were introduced and followed up by running some measurements with LA-ICP-MS.

In the next 2 ½ days, poster and oral presentations including planned plenary lectures provided a great opportunity to get deeper into the fundamentals, instrumentation and applications of the field and discuss about new research projects.

Furthermore, social networking was promoted through several social events including the ice breaker reception, Ljubljana excursion and Castle happening and Gala dinner.

More information on EWLA are available here.

Student internship or dipping a toe in Marine Sciences

"Hello! My name is Lena Schegerer. I am 16 years old and I am a student in grade 10 at the Gymnasium Thomaeum in Kempen, North Rhine-Westphalia. My favorite subject is biology since a long time and I am particularly interested in ecology. I was always keen on to learn more about the sea and how the life on earth is connected with the ocean. Furthermore, I want to get an idea on how researchers really work on how their day-to-day work looks alike, since so far I only know it from TV documentaries.

In order to do so I got in contact with Dr. Daniela Henkel, who offered me the possibility to get an introduction into the research carried out at GEOMAR. In addition to this I dipped into the world of coral reef ecology and gained knowledge on how scientists use fossils in order to reconstruct the history of our ocean. I also learned that the latter can help to give predictions for our future especially in context with climate change. From August 8th to 19th, 2016 I completed my student internship at GEOMAR."

Lena Schegerer, August 2016

From Kassel to Kiel for an appointment with Magellania venosa and Pajaudina atlantica

Getting information on living brachiopods is not an easy task. That at least is what Peter-Joachim Focke experienced when he started his search for details on recent brachiopods in December 2016. Mr Focke is a former teacher and got now involved at the adult education center in Kassel. In this context he is giving a seminar on the “White Jurassic”, for which is he collecting as much information as possible. His search ended on 6-7 January, 2017 with a visit at the GEOMAR facilities in Kiel, where brachiopods are cultured as part of a scientific project, which is funded by the European Union. During his visit Mr. Focke got insights into both the research tasks of BASE-LiNE Earth and the European Union as a funding source for research in Germany.

See you again in Kiel....

"To verify my ideas of the subject of my studies I was positively amazed to get the chance to go to the GEOMAR for one week and have a look over many shoulders, learn something about new methods and meet people working on fields I want to do research on when I finish my studies.

So the GEOMAR turned out to be the ideal place to learn about research done in marine ecosystems and methods to reconstruct the environment millions of years back in time. Spending most of my time with the PhDs of BASE-LINE Earth, I was given an insight in a huge variety of methods to collect data for different purposes.

We measured boron isotope ratio in permian brachiopod shells using columns filled with special resin to separate the boron from other elements of the shell after treating the sample with acid and H2O2 to get rid of all organic molecules. We finally took measurements with the mass spectrometer to get the acquired data.

I got the chance to take in situ measurements for calcium concentration in a saltwater aquarium containing a coral reef biosphere where isotopic ratios concerning CO2 were taking place.

I was given a briefing in the preparation process of instruments used during expeditions offshore.

I had the unique chance to experience science work in different laboratories, using various methods, instruments and machines to have a deeper insight in the wonderful marine environment.

I want to heartly thank everyone who guided me, answered my questions and assured me in my plans to study geosciences and chemistry. A special thank you to my great organisor Dr. Daniela Henkel. She truly did everything possible to give me an insight in almost every section and research group working in the GEOMAR." Stephan Hamisch, May 2017

BASE-LINE Earth on the trail of Marie Skłodowska-Curie

The Institute of Paleobiology/ Polish Academy of Sciences (PI Aleksandra Bitner) hosted the 1stWork Package Meeting (#1). In the framework of the meeting BASE-LiNE Earth ESRs had the chance to present their recent findings to the colleagues of their Work Package and beyond. The meeting was a perfect chance to intensively discuss scientific issues and modify individual roadmaps for the last project period.

Furthermore, BASE-LiNE Earth went on the trail of Marie Skłodowska-Curie, and by doing so we became aware of the luck we have to indeed live the European research dream...