2016: Year in review

2016 was an exciting year in Palaeobiogeochemistry. Nur Gueneli completed her PhD thesis on late Mesoproterozoic microbial communities and Benjamin Bruisten submitted his thesis on climate cycles and microbial ecology of a Palaeoproterozoic sea. Tharika Liyanage completed her MSc project on biomarkers from a period leading into the great Snowball Earth glaciations.

PhD student Ilya Bobrovskiy continues his work on biomarkers and ancient Ediacaran environments of the White Sea area and made an outstanding discovery that received a positive reply for a pre-submission request to Nature. The full paper will be submitted early 2017.

Eminent geologist Prof. Neil Williams continued as an official visitor to our laboratory and moved into the office next to Jochen’s. As an active collaborator on our ARC DP project, “Toppling the Boring Billion: Biomarkers, orbital cycles and primordial life”, he has been performing SHRIMP sulphur isotope measurements on HYC samples. In September 2017, Neil and Jochen received permission to enter the McArthur River HYC Mine to collect samples.

In May and June, Dr Jin Su and Dr Huitong Wang from Prof Shuichang Zhang’s laboratory at the China National Petroleum Cooperation visited our lab to study biomarkers from Proterozoic rocks from China. We also hosted three undergraduate students (1 PhB and 2 special projects), so the lab was full and pleasantly busy!

Field trip to Snowball Earth deposits in the Flinders Ranges with Prof Paul Hoffmann (centre)

Research Highlights

  • Evolution of chemical warfare 800 Ma ago drove the emergence of animals (Brocks)
  • Dating the rise of algae in the Precambrian and the impact on animal evolution (Brocks, submitted to Nature)
  • Discovery of molecular traces of our earliest extinct ancestors: 1.6 billion years old (Brocks)
  • New sole-CI ARC Discovery grant “Lost world of complex life: Molecular traces of our primordial ancestors” (Brocks)