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Analytical, Environmental & Geo-Chemistry

Images Earth research page


The scientific approach of AMGC focuses on the holistic use of biogeochemical tracers, such as elemental concentrations (Cd, Pb, PGE etc.) and isotopic ratios (D/H, 18O/16O, 13C/12C, 15N/14N, 87Sr/88Sr...), - often referred to as "proxies" - that are measured on a substrate (e.g. mineral phase, fossil, mussel-shell, teeth, seawater, plankton, ice cores etc.) to infer specific environmental parameters (such as condition of formation, temperature, acidity, salinity, CO2 level, composition, bio-productivity etc.). Variations in these "proxies" characterize the factors triggering or resulting from (paleo)environmental changes and document at different scales, the short and/or long-term effects of these modifications on the Global Earth System. Although not commonly carried out, the analyses in close conjunction of modern and ancient global changes, including anthropogenic pollution are highly complementary and mutually beneficial. Ongoing changes are monitored and documented at very high resolution, while the geological record traces the evolution of these changes through time, providing an extra dimension, missing from the modern data. To address these challenges, innovative analytical procedures are continuously being developed using the facilities available at the VUB and applied to various earth, environmental and pollution problems.

Ongoing research covers:planetary science, including (micro)meteorite search expeditions in Antarctica; studies of the Chicxulub impact-crater, most likely responsible for the K-Pg mass extinction. Paleoclimate reconstructions using stable isotopes and traces elements measured at high resolution on archives such a speleothems and fossil shells. Pioneering work applying cyclostratigraphy and astrochronology to the Paleozoic to refine pas global changes timing. The detection using DGT (diffusive gradients in thin film) and tracing of trace metals in aquatic systems with applications in pollution or global change studies. The biogeochemistry (metals, 15N, 13C) of marine and river (Schelde; Zenne) systems. The development of chemometric methods, together with the use of Calux bioassays systems for estrogen, doxin and other organic pollutants detection in various matrices (food; human fluids, water etc). AMGC is also active in bioarchaeology, using isotope tracers to reconstruct mobility, landscape use and diet in ancien populations (see BBLab) or IsoArch database