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CRC 1211 partakes in Graduate School Scholarship Programme awarded to GSGS, Cologne

logo GSGS DAADSupported by the Graduate School Scholarship Programme (GSSP) of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Graduate School of Geosciences (GSGS) at the University of Cologne offers two promising international doctoral candidates the opportunity to pursue a doctorate as a part of an existing coordinated research programme, including CRC1211, supervised by a Cologne Geoscientist.

Deadline for applications is 31. January, 2023.

Further information can be found through the call website.

CRC 1211 Training Week “Geo-/ Biosciences in hyperarid environments

an opportunity for knowledge transfer, networking, and international co-operation

The threat of Covid-19 pandemic-related impediments (e.g. health issues, travel restrictions) forced the cancellation of the CRC 1211 summer school, which was originally planned to be conducted in Namibia in October/November 2022. In response to the cancellation, the IRTG (project Z05) provided an alternative opportunity for knowledge transfer, networking, and scientific debate by organising a training week. The event was conducted between 09th and 15th October 2022 in Koenigswinter, Germany. It was convened by Tibor Dunai and Dietmar Quandt, and organised by Joel Mohren. The training week was not only dedicated to represent a platform for interaction among the participants, but it also aimed at providing an introduction into scientific methods and state of the art science related to research conducted within the framework of CRC 1211.

Apart from including members of the CRC, efforts were made to invite students and PhD candidates affiliated to research institutions from the two focus countries of the CRC. As a result, we could welcome participants from the University of Namibia and from the universities Católica del Norte (Antofagasta) and Universidad de la Serena in Chile. The favourable conditions met at the venue promoted social interaction among the participants and may have provided the gametes for future collaboration. A great enrichment to the training week proved to be the presence of participants from outside the CRC, expanding the opportunities of scientific exchange. Apart from presenting their research, the participants who came from Namibia and Chile also shared their first-hand experiences on various research-related topics, which may help CRC members on future fieldworks and facilitate collaboration with our Chilean and Namibian partners.

Relocating the event to Germany implied a better control on disruptive factors at the expense of the general desert ambience present in Namibia. In terms of teaching, however, the conduction of the training week in Germany had positive effects on the availability of teaching capacities. The teaching aimed at including both theoretical and practical teaching blocks in the scientific fields of Bio- and Geosciences. Members of all CRC clusters prepared lectures tailored to the scopes of the training week. The participants could gain insights into the geological background, Earth surface processes and local biota associated to the Siebengebirge Volcanic Field and its vicinity during a one-day excursion led by Carsten Münker, Tibor Dunai, Julia Bechteler, and Joel Mohren. As a further scientific highlight, the conveners invited Prof Carina Hoorn from the University of Amsterdam to provide a glimpse into her research on past and present Geo-Bio feedbacks in the Amazonian region and in the Asian continental interior. In addition, the participants presented their own work on short orals during a poster session.

The training week was a great success as it did not only introduce the participants into the various research fields condensed within the domain of CRC 1211, but it also laid the foundation for future collaboration amongst the participants. Such events are vital to spread the spirit of interdisciplinarity and to establish a network between the early career scientists affiliated to the CRC and beyond, and will ultimately lead to more holistic scientific advances.

The conveners and the organiser thank all participants for showing their enthusiasm and open mindedness during the training week. Furthermore, we thank Esteban Acevedo-Trejos, Julia Bechteler, Steven Binnie, Bárbara Blanco, Dominik Brill, Patrick Grunert, Anna Hakobyan, Christine Heim, Carina Hoorn, Claudia Knief, Marcus Koch, Martin Melles, Carsten Münker, Stephanie Scheidt, Jan Schween, and Bernd Wagner for putting so many efforts in their teaching and presentations.

Author: Joel Mohren

 

 

 

Group Photo.
Fig.1: Group photo.
Photo:
Joel Mohren / Hannah Hartung

  Carsten Münker explains the geology of the Siebengebirge Volcanic Field
Fig.2: Carsten Münker explains the geology of the Siebengebirge Volcanic Field.
Photo: Joel Mohren

 

Group Photo.
Fig.3: Martin Melles explains the sedimentary sequence of drill cores from Chile.
Photo:
Joel Mohren

  Prof. Carina Hoorn presents her research
Fig.4: Prof. Carina Hoorn (University of Amsterdam) presents her research.
Photo: 
Joel Mohren

 

Participant presents her posterFig.5: A participant presents her poster.
Photo:
Joel Mohren

  Final schedule of the training week
Fig.6: The final schedule of the training week.

Bridging Scientific Expertise in the field – Field Campaign 2022

Projects: A03, C04, C09, D02, D06

Between end of September and mid October 2022 a mixed group of scientists from the A03, C04, C09, D02 and D06 subprojects conducted a 21-day field excursion to the Atacama Desert guided by Dr. Benedikt Ritter and Dr. Damian Lopez. The group consisting of young researcher (two PhDs, five Post‑Docs) visited and conducted on-site experiments and sampling in all three focus areas of our CRC1211. With the collected samples and on-site data, we aimed to characterized the gradual change of aridity throughout the Atacama Desert. Major tasks focussed on extensive tephra sampling for our D06 Tephrochronology subproject, sampling of datable CaSO4 samples and silicates for U/Pb dating of the D02 subproject, on-site analysis of dust emission using a mini ‘tornado’ machine (PI-SWERL) on various intact and destroyed soil and surfaces, as well as soil and sediment sampling for the characterization of biological fingerprints on and in CaSO4 crusts and soil promoting surface stabilization. The campaign was rounded off with numerous samples for exposure dating and CaSO4 wedges from old surfaces increasingly threatened by destruction (by nitrate/iodine mining) and a visit including sampling to the Salar Grande salt mine Bahia Blanca.

The intertwining interaction of all scientific branches of our group led to lively discussions in the field and close collaborations of all fields within an interdisciplinary approach.

Author: Benedikt Ritter

 

 

Due to the strong cooperation with our Chilean colleagues we are only able to conduct this CRC in the Atacama Desert.
Fig.1: Due to the strong cooperation with our Chilean colleagues we are only able to conduct this CRC in the Atacama Desert. Again, many thanks to Prof. Eduardo Campos for all his help and patience with us. “Ver mas alla – See beyond”
Photo: Benedikt Ritter

  Our mini “tornado’ machine in action (PI-SWERL).
Fig.2: Our mini “tornado’ machine in action (PI-SWERL). Main question, at which windspeeds we can start the emission of dust and how does the soil and its composition and structure help to prevent aeolian erosion.
Photo:
Benedikt Ritter

 

 Repeated measurements allow a statistical evaluation of windspeed and dust emissions.
Fig.3: Repeated measurements allow a statistical evaluation of windspeed and dust emissions. Experiments were conducted on various soil and surface types, as well as on intact and destroyed surfaces.
Photo:
Benedikt Ritter

  Atacama soil and sediment sampling.
Fig.4: Atacama soil and sediment sampling using empty trenches from presumably prospection work from nitrate/iodine mining companies.
Photo:
Benedikt Ritter

 

Halite outcrop at the Bahia Blanca Halite Mine.
Fig.5: Halite outcrop at the Bahia Blanca Halite Mine in the northern part of the Salar Grande basin. Thanks to SPL for the visit and the scientific cooperation with us.
Photo:
Benedikt Ritter

  Impact and creeping of the famous ‘camanchaca’ (fog).
Fig.6: Impact and creeping of the famous ‘camanchaca’ (fog) into the Salar Grande basin on its south-western rim.
Photo:
Benedikt Ritter

 

Online Short Course on Cosmogenic Nuclides as Dating Tool at the Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN)

On the 23th and 24th of August up to 20 postgraduates and students from the Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN) in Antofagasta participated at an online short course about the use and application of cosmogenic nuclides for dating surfaces and terrestrial archives. Dr. Benedikt Ritter offered this course to geoscience students in Chile in the spirit of knowledge exchange between the CRC1211 and the UCN and to foster potential new research project of postgraduates in Chile.

Beside participants from the UCN, also students from the Universidad de Chile, Universidad de Atacama, Universidad Alberto Hurtado and Universidad de Concepcíon attended. During the two-day workshop, the participants learned the background knowledge about cosmogenic nuclides, their source, production and their application as dating tool. With the knowledge gained during the course, we hope that our young geoscientists think about applying these new methods in their future projects.

 

 

Photo 1
Fig.1: Flyer Short Course by Dr. Benedikt Ritter

  Photo 1
Fig.2: Participants from Chile.

The arrival of the Paranal Drill Cores

After almost five months and almost 17300km of travel, the sediment cores from our second deep drilling operation at the Paranal clay pan finally arrived here in Cologne at the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy. A truck full of sediment cores with a weight of up to 8t was unloaded, inspected and stored in the facilities of the Quaternary working group. The first 50m were directly moved to the laboratory to start some initial scans on the Multi-Sensor Core Logger. Within the next months the cores will be opened, described and will go through some analyses, including paleomagnetics, geochemical and geophysical properties, followed by sub-sampling for more methods, covered within our CRC1211. This sediment archive will give us crucial insights in the paleo-environment and paleo-climate of the southern Atacama Desert (Southern Focus Area of our CRC1211). With the data and information obtained from our first deep drilling operation at the PAG clay pan (Central Focus Area) and short cores from the Huara clay pan (Northern Focus Area), we will be able to trace major climate shifts and conditions during the past, to better understand local and overregional climate patterns and mechanisms, such as ENSO variations and rare but severe precipitation events. With the information obtained from the entirety of paleoclimate archives within our Collaborative Research Centre, we will be able to better understand processes which shape our Earth, especially in arid to hyperarid environments. In cooperation with our biologists, we will be able to unravel how life evolved and adapted to these harsh conditions. Reconstructed past climate episodes and their atmospheric mechanism, can be translated to forecast and model future climate and environmental conditions.

Author: B. Ritter

 

 

Crew with the lowermost core of Hole 1B (174 m depth).
Fig.1: Crew with the lowermost core of Hole 1B (174 m depth).
Photo: Damian Lopez

  Downloading the samples at the shipping agency in La Portada, Antofagasta.
Fig.2: Downloading the samples at the shipping agency in La Portada, Antofagasta.
Photo: Damian Lopez

 

Arrival in Cologne.
Fig.3: Arrival in Cologne.
Photo:
Benedikt Ritter

  Downloading the samples on the parking at the Institute of Geology.
Fig.4: Downloading the samples on the parking at the Institute of Geology.
Photo:
Benedikt Ritter

Bridging research in Namibia and Chile – C2 fieldwork during first half of 2022

After an involuntary break of field work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, subproject C2 successfully completed two extensive field campaigns during the last months. During the first one in February and March 2022, the project members visited together with colleagues from the Geological Survey of Namibia the remote northwest of the country. Later in May and June, another field campaign to the Atacama Desert in North Chile was carried out in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Chile (SERNAGEOMIN).

In both deserts, the main objective was to investigate and sample in a systematic manner the sediment deposits created during past periods of higher fluvial activity, with the overarching goal to derive the pre-Quaternary to Late Pleistocene fluvial landscape evolution along climate gradients and in comparison between the two hyperarid west-coast deserts.

 

Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Along the remote Skeleton Coast and Kunene Highlands in Northwest Namibia, Dr. Dominik Brill, Dr. Janek Walk and Julian Krieger conducted in total 6 weeks of field work in February and March in close cooperation with the Geological Survey of Namibia. Accompanied by Anna Nguno, deputy director and head of the Regional Geoscience Division, Andreas Nduutepo and Paulina Pokolo, the team focused on the fluvial fans stretching across the Skeleton Coast. Field work included screening and mapping of the fluvial landforms along a north-south gradient, their drainage basins, as well as their interaction with the Skeleton Coast Erg (Figure 1).

 

Small terrace steps in fine pan deposits
Fig 1: Remnants of pan (or “vlei”) deposits of the ephemeral Samanab, which accumulated due to the temporary blocking of the Samanab by the Skeleton Coast Erg.
Photo:
Janek Walk

 

Selected sites, with catchments incised differently far into the more humid hinterlands to the east, were then studied in detail for dating using various methods. Accordingly, surfaces of seven multi-phase alluvial fans were sampled for cosmogenic nuclide surface exposure dating, while at six sites, fluvial deposits, often intercalated with aeolian sediments, were sampled for luminescence dating and in some cases also for palaeomagnetic dating (Figure 2).

 

Sediment section measured using tape measures
Fig 2: Sedimentary section at the lower ephemeral Huab river showing a succession of fine and coarse river deposits, covered by an alluvial fan.
Photo:
Janek Walk

 

Atacama Desert, Chile

Four weeks of field work in the Atacama Desert in May and June, conducted by Prof. Frank Lehmkuhl, Dr. Janek Walk, and Prof. em. Helmut Brückner, together with geologist Andrés Quezada from the SERNAGEOMIN, focused on small- to medium-sized alluvial fan systems aligned along a meridional transect from the slightly more humid Great Coastal Escarpment across the Salar Grande and the hyperarid core of the Atacama towards a mountain range at the Quebrada de Maní. Along this transect, five sites were systematically studied and fan surfaces sampled for cosmogenic nuclide surface exposure dating (Figure 3). For cross-check dating, also tephra was sampled, if present.

 

Alluvial fan surface in a desert
Fig 3: Sampling of a large alluvial fan extending south of the Cerro Manchas, west of the Salar Grande, for cosmogenic nuclide surface exposure dating. Note the boulder in the foreground, which is heavily disintegrated by kernsprung and the older, presumably Pliocene to Miocene, bright alluvial fan surface in the background.
Photo:
Helmut Brückner

 

In addition, the group worked at the shore of the Salar Grande, where clastic material covers the salt succession. Andrés Quezada, expert for Salar Grande and surrounding geology, discussed with us the salar’s evolution (Figure 4) and supported us in sampling the rhythmic stratification of fluvial and alluvial deposits for luminescence and palaeomagnetic dating (Video).

Outcrop in a salt mine in the Salar Grande
Fig 4: Andrés Quezada from the SERNAGEOMIN explaining the evolution of the Salar Grande at the abandoned Salina (salt mine) Río Seco.
Photo:
Janek Walk

 

 


Video: Sampling the clastic sediments and salt at the Salina Río Seco | Video: Frank Lehmkuhl

 

At the coast of the CRC’s southern focus area, we further worked on the coastal alluvial fan Paposo – a site investigated and sampled in detail already during the first phase of the CRC. In collaboration with project C08, we took soil samples to be analysed for their micromorphological properties as well as for the new luminescence-based process tracing methods of the – at Paposo – biologically active Earth Critical Zone (see also: Z2/Z3/C8 joint fieldwork in March 2022)

 

 



Contact

  Speaker:
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

 _

  Co-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
   
  Scientific Coordinator:
Dr. Benedikt Ritter
Institute of Geology and Mineralogy | University of Cologne

Zülpicher Str. 49b | 50674 Cologne
+49 (0)221 470-89868 | benedikt.ritter@uni-koeln.de

 _

  Co-Speaker:
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
   
  Webmaster:
Tim Schlüter
Institute of Geography | University of Cologne

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