651-4044-01L  Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry Lab Practical

SemesterSpring Semester 2021
LecturersT. I. Eglinton
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentPrerequisites: "Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry Field Course" (651-4044-02L).
The attendance of "Micropalaeontology and Molecular Palaeontology" (651-4044-04L) or "The Global Carbon Cycle - Reduced" (651-4004-00L) is recommended but not mandatory.


Abstract1. Analysis of organic molecules in extracts from soils of different ages in glacial flood fields, in altitudinal gradients from different bedrocks, from sediments, from Cryoconites in glacial ice and from living biofilms in high altitude aquatic ecosystems, and from mineral springs.
2. Analysis of matrix components of the ecosystems: dissolved compounds, minerals, clays, trace metals.
ObjectiveThe student will be able
- to design strategies for collecting samples in the field suitable for subsequent analyses in the laboratory
- to critically evaluate his/her own analytical data and put it into a scientific context.
Content1. Preparing field work based on research hypotheses.
2. Designing field sampling strategies, proper sampling collection and preservation.
3. Documenting environmental conditions and observations at the sampling sites.
4. Extracting organic molecules from environmental samples with different matrixes.
5. Working under clean conditions and handling samples without contaminating them.
6. Discussing the results and documenting the outcomes in a scientific report.

This Lab Practical, together with the corresponding Field Trips form part of a continuing "Course Research" unit.

During the field section in the Eastern Alps, we will visit a number of sites that offer
- different bedrocks (dolomite, gneiss, shale, serpentinite, radiolarite, mine tailings) and will study the organics in the soils that formed on them.
- aquatic ecosystems (lakes, rivers, springs) at high altitudes and greatly varying salinities and redox conditions.
- glacial ice (organics in Cryoconites and in ice)
- organics from pioneering colonizer organisms in lakes formed during the recent retreat of glaciers.
- sediments recently deposited in lakes and flood planes as well as shales that date back to the Mesozoic.

Procedures for sampling, sample preparation and processing (extraction, analyses) will be defined on the first day of the field course.
Lecture notesProcedures for sampling, extraction and analyses will be designed on a special preparation day during the field trips and later in the course of the lab sessions.
LiteratureField guides and details about the course logistics will become available to enrolled students on OLAT via Details under Link
Prerequisites / NoticeThe laboratory module (651-4044-01L) takes place as a small research project during the fall semester. Samples collected in the field will be analysed under guidance in the labs of the Biogeosciences Group. The timing of the lab work will be individually adjusted based on the availability of assistants and analytical resources.

Students who sign up for both, the field and the lab component, are given priority. There are 10 places available for the project section. The section requires participation on the field trips. It is possible, however, to participate in the field section only without signing up for the project section.

At the end of the project section, participants write a report in the style of a scientific paper that contains descriptions of the sampling location, the sample collection and preservation procedures and protocols, description of the analytical methods, the data obtained from analyses of the measured samples and a discussion of the results.

Prerequisites: "Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry Field Course" (651-4044-02L). The lecture course "651-4004-00L The Carbon Cycle - reduced" is recommended for the project.