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Methodological challenges within the proposed CRC pertain to (i) obtaining age constraints for Cenozoic continental sediments and evaporites (ii) dating trace amounts of organic carbon in soils and (iii) quantify the provenance and trace signs of metabolism in evaporite minerals.

Project D1


Cosmogenic nuclides: dating of old continental sediments in arid environments

Research areas: Geochemistry, Experimental Condensed Matter Physics, Analytical Chemistry, Method Development

Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Tibor J. Dunai, Dr. Steven Binnie, Prof. Dr. Alfred Dewald

It is presently difficult, in many cases impossible, to obtain reliable ages for continental sediments that are devoid of age-indicating fossils. This is particularly the case for discontinuously deposited old (>1 Ma) sediments in arid environments, since they are outside the age-range of luminescence and disequilibrium dating techniques (Ankjaergaard et al., 2013; Blisniuk et al., 2012; Lomax et al., 2011; Zander and Hilgers, 2013).

Project D2


Dating of Evaporites

Research areas: Geochemistry, Geochronology

Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Carsten Münker, Dr. Daniel Herwartz

Understanding the chronology of arid and hyperarid environments is of pivotal importance in order to constrain the coupled evolution of biosphere and Earth surface processes through time. The Atacama Desert, chosen as natural laboratory for this CRC initiative, apparently belongs to the oldest deserts on Earth, with a proposed >23 Ma history of aridity. Direct dating of aridity in the Atacama Desert has so far relied on cosmogenic nuclide dating of preserved surfaces and on K-Ar dating of supergene minerals in ore deposits, both only providing indirect age estimates for the onset of aridity.

Project D3


Stable isotopes: Development of a paleohumidity proxy from oxygen isotopes in Ca-sulfate hydration water

Research areas: Geochemistry, Climate research

Principal investigators: Dr. Daniel Herwartz, Prof. Dr. Michael Staubwasser

This study seeks to systematically investigate aqueous isotope exchange of 16O-17O-18O and H-D between crystal water of hydrated Ca-sulphates (gypsum, bassanite) and principal types of Atacama desert water (water vapor, fog water, salt lakes and plant water). The purpose of this study is to determine if humidity- a key environmental parameter in deserts - can be directly inferred from the isotopic composition of gypsum hydration water (GHW) and plant water. 

Project D4


Trace organic compounds: Tracing water availability, organic carbon sources, and life at the dry limit using radiocarbon analysis

Research areas: Geochronology, Organic Geochemistry, Method Development

Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Janet Rethemeyer, Dr. Stephanie Kusch

Radiocarbon and lipid analysis as well as the combined compound-specific radiocarbon analysis (CSRA) will be used as promising analytical technique for answering the main research questions of this project.

Project D5


OSL-Dating: Constraining the Pleistocene environmental history of the Atacama: Extending the age range of luminescence dating

Research areas: Physical Geography

Principal investigators: Dr. Georgina King, Prof. Dr. Helmut Brückner

Understanding Quaternary climatic and environmental change is dependent upon a robust chronology of earth surface and/or environmental evolution. A primary objective of this CRC is to understand how the timing of humid phases relates to the activity of earth surface and biological processes from the present day to the Cenozoic.

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Prof. Dr. Tibor J. Dunai
Institute of Geology and Mineralogy | University of Cologne
Zülpicher Str. 49b | 50674 Cologne
+49-(0)221-470 2634 | tduanai@uni-koeln.de
Dr. Maximilian Müller
Institute of Geography | University of Cologne

Otto-Fischer-Str. 4 | 50674 Cologne
+49-(0)221-470 2241 | maximilian.mueller@uni-koeln.de
Deputy Speaker:
Prof. Dr. Martin Melles
Institute of Geology and Mineralogy | University of Cologne

Zülpicher Str. 49a | 50674 Cologne
+49-(0)221-470 2262 | mmelles@uni-koeln.de
© 2017 CRC1211 - Earth - Evolution at the Dry Limit

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