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B5 - Field Trip"Soils of the Atacama Desert: Reservoir and Fingerprint of Life"

07.10.2016 – 01.11.2016

This first sampling campaign of B05 was conducted together with the team of B04. Corresponding to recent scientific studies, it was found that soils of the Atacama Desert do contain organic matter. But the reported findings about distribution and accrual of soil organic matter are contradictory. This means that a detailed picture on spatial and depth patterns of soil organic matter accrual does not exist and cannot be deducted from existing studies. Therefore, one of the purposes of this first trip was to sample surface samples along a 30 km transect in the southern focus area near Paposo. With a nested sampling, we addressed topsoil heterogeneity at each of the 12 sites.

We asked, if the distribution of life occurs in patches or along a gradient from the coast to the Andes.

“One of the most interesting sites was at 1450 metres above sea level, were we found a huge fan surface, which was different in all physical parameters which could be determined in the field” says Dr. Roland Bol, Principal Investigator of B05. Additionally, we searched for fingerprints of life. Therefore, we first identified and sampled the 3 major plants of the Paposo transect together with the Team of B01 and secondly took 6 soil samples with increasing distance to the plant (where litter is deposited).

“What was quite impressive for all of us was to observe the difference in vegetation between the small vegetated loma-oases near the coast, compared to apparently life hostile conditions in far distance”
– Dr. Roland Bol

At the end of the trip we sampled around 500 soil samples and sieved and prepared them for shipping in the lab of Dr. B. Fuentes at Universidad Catolica del Norte in Antofagasta.



Dr. Roland Bol
Phone: +49 (0) 2461 61-6653
E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


IMG 7334 1 350pxPhoto: Roland Bol


IMG 7334 1 350pxPhoto: Roland Bol


Pressen Eulychnia TBoehnert TB011954 1 350pxPhoto: Roland Bol



Prof. Dr. Tibor J. Dunai
Institute of Geology and Mineralogy | University of Cologne
Zülpicher Str. 49b | 50674 Cologne
+49 (0)221 470-3229 | tdunai@uni-koeln.de
  Managing Director:
Christian Tiede
Institute of Geology and Mineralogy | University of Cologne

Zülpicher Str. 49b | 50674 Cologne
+49 (0)221 470-89833 | christian.tiede@uni-koeln.de


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
Tim Schlüter
Institute of Geography | University of Cologne

Otto-Fischer-Str. 4 | 50674 Cologne
+49 (0)221 470-3735 | webmaster@sfb1211.de


Prof. Dr. Dietmar Quandt
Nees Institute for Biodiversity of Plants | University of Bonn

Meckenheimer Allee 170 | 53115 Bonn
+49 (0)228 73-3315 | quandt@uni-bonn.de
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