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Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 4.17M | Year: 2014

ABYSS is a training and career development platform for young scientists in Geodynamics, Mineralogy, Hydrodynamics, Thermodynamics and (Bio-)Geochemistry focusing on mid-ocean ridge processes and their environmental and economic impacts. It brings together 10 European research groups internationally recognized for their excellence in complementary disciplines and 4 Associated Partners from the Private Sector. ABYSS will provide training for 12 Early Stage Researchers and 3 Experienced Researchers through a structured and extensive program of collaboration, training and student exchange. ABYSS aims at developing the scientific skills and multi-disciplinary approaches to make significant advances in the understanding of the coupled tectonic, magmatic, hydrothermal and (bio-)geochemical mechanisms that control the structure and composition of the oceanic lithosphere and the microbial habitats it provides. An improved understanding of these complex processes is critical to assess the resource potential of the deep-sea. ABYSS will specifically explore processes with implications for economy and policy-making such as carbonation (CO2 storage), hydrogen production (energy generation) and the formation of ore-deposits. ABYSS will also emphasize the importance of interfacial processes between the deep Earth and its outer envelopes, including microbial ecosystems with relevance to deep carbon cycling and life growth on the Primitive Earth. The ABYSS training and outreach programme is set up to promote synergies between research and industry, general public and policy makers. The main outcome of ABYSS will be twofold (i) develop a perennial network of young scientists, sharing a common technical and scientific culture for bridging the gaps in process understanding and make possible the exploitation of far off-shore mining of marine resources; (ii) to address the need to develop pertinent policies at the European and international level for preserving these unique environments.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.75M | Year: 2015

Data on seawater composition since the start of the Phanerozoic eon ~540 million years ago provide essential information for understanding long-term chemical processes of socio-economic dimension like the evolution of life, land-ocean interaction, atmospheric chemistry, ecosystem adaptation to climate change, oceanic trace metal cycling, and for applied geological processes like the formation of submarine energy resources. Although partly known this knowledge is still limited pending new methodical prospects and innovative analytical techniques. Following this approach, the proposed ETN BASE-LiNE Earth will train early stage researchers (ESRs) who will extend the knowledge of the complex and long-term Phanerozoic seawater history by the determination of original proxy information preserved in reliable ancient geological archives using cutting edge technologies and experimental approaches. In order to amplify this process the ESRs will be exposed to academic and non-academic high-tech institutions linking biogeochemical research and training in biology, ecology, geochemistry as well as chemical analytics to engineering and cutting edge analytical instrumentation. Multi- and interdisciplinary environments will expose our ESRs to highly demanded transferable skills increasing their employability when it comes to job application. BASE-LiNE Earth will offer societally important deliverables like time series of past trace element and isotope cycling and models about ocean material fluxes in and out of the Phanerozoic Ocean. This will be shared in publications, reports and exhibitions. Interactive lecturing material will be offered for education in general and specifically for high school teachers. Through collaboration with high-tech companies the ETN will contribute to establish both, new approaches for the exploration of hydrocarbon reservoirs and innovative and sophisticated analytical instrumentation for trace element and isotope measurements.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 3.82M | Year: 2014

Soil, water, and precious metals are major natural resources present at the Earths terrestrial surface and their efficient management is essential for future sustainable development. Their availability is regulated by massive biogeochemical transformations that take place as the chemical elements move from rock to soil, into plants, through ground water, into river water, and into ore deposits. These precious resources are currently being exploited to an extent that is unprecedented in the history of our planet. We will make use of recent technological advances, in the form of novel mass-spectrometric methods, that have the as-yet unrealised capacity to make fundamental advances in understanding the formation of these resources. The understanding developed with these new tools will ultimately guide the sustainable exploitation of Earth surface environments. We will train young researchers in these ISOtopic tools as NOvel Sensors of Earth surface resources (IsoNose) through this European Initial Training Network. Long-term collaboration to train this new generation of scientists will be initiated by instrument manufacturers, academic specialists in method development and applications, private sector participants from the environmental, material certification, and metal ore resources fields. The researchers will use IsoNose as a platform to lead this emerging field into new areas, including the geosciences, environmental forensics, biomedical sciences, and mineral resource prospecting.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-CG | Phase: ERC-CG-2013-PE10 | Award Amount: 2.00M | Year: 2014

The goal of the project is to take a major step in improving the detection and understanding of landslides and their modelling at the field scale through the analysis of generated seismic waves. The seismic signal generated by landslides (i. e. landquakes) provides a unique tool to estimate the properties of the flow and its dynamics. Indeed, the stress applied by the landslide to the ground, which generates seismic waves, is highly sensitive to the flow history and therefore to the physical properties during mass emplacement. The strategy will be to combine a very accurate description of the landslide source, and the simulation and measurements of landquakes from the laboratory to the natural scale, by leading an ambitious interdisciplinary project involving numerical modelling, laboratory experiments and observation. The methodology will be to (1) develop thin layer models for granular flows over a complex 3D topography to alleviate the high computational costs related to the description of the real topography, taking into account the static/flowing transition and the fluid/grains mixture, both playing a key role in natural flows; (2) simulate the generated seismic waves by coupling landslide models to state-of-the-art wave propagation models. An ambitious objective will be to develop efficient coupling methods; (3) develop laboratory experiments of seismic emissions generated by granular flows to test the models and understand the physical processes at work; (4) analyse, simulate and invert natural landquakes making use of underexploited high-quality seismic and geomorphological data, in particular on volcanoes. An ultimate objective will be to design a new generation of landslides models, reliable methods and operational tools for detection of gravitational flows, and interpretation of seismic data in terms of landslide properties. This tools will be transferred to the scientific community and to the observatories in charge of monitoring landslide activity.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-STG | Phase: ERC-StG-2014 | Award Amount: 1.49M | Year: 2015

The objectives of this proposal, PRISTINE (high PRecision ISotopic measurements of heavy elements in extra-Terrestrial materials: origIN and age of the solar system volatile Element depletion), are to develop new cutting edge high precision isotopic measurements to understand the origin of the Earth, Moon and solar system volatile elements and link their relative depletion in the different planets to their formation mechanism. In addition, the understanding of the origin of the volatile elements will have direct consequences for the understanding of the origin of the Earths water. To that end, we will approach the problem from two angles: 1) Develop and use novel stable isotope systems for volatile elements (e.g. Zn, Ga, Cu, and Rb) in terrestrial, lunar and meteoritic materials to constrain the origin of solar systems volatile element depletion 2) Determine the age of the volatile element depletion by using a novel and original approach: calculate the original Rb/Sr ratio of the Solar Nebula by measuring the isotopic composition of the Sun with respect to Sr via the isotopic composition of solar wind implanted in lunar soil grains. The stable isotope composition (goal #1) will give us new constraints on the mechanisms (e.g. evaporation following a giant impact or incomplete condensation) that have shaped the abundances of the volatile elements in terrestrial planets, while the timing (goal #2) will be used to differentiate between nebular events (early) from planetary events (late). These new results will have major implications on our understanding of the origin of the Earth and of the Moon, and they will be used to test the giant impact hypothesis of the Moon and the origin of the Earths water.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-AG | Phase: ERC-AG-PE10 | Award Amount: 3.50M | Year: 2014

The Plate Tectonics Theory is the most important discovery in all of earth sciences. It is based on the concept of plates (lithosphere) that float over the asthenosphere. Although the lithosphere is a basic building block of the plate tectonics theory, its nature, its thickness, its boundary with the asthenosphere (LAB) are still matter of heated debates. Here we propose to image the LAB and internal structure of the lithosphere at a very high-resolution using a combination of different geophysical methods in a systematic manner across the Atlantic Ocean (Trans-Atlantic) for a lithosphere of 0-100 Ma age. Along with using seismological and magnetotelluric methods, we propose to use a technology newly developed for the oil and gas exploration that is capable of providing a seismic reflection image down to 120 km depth with a few hundred metres resolution, resolving the controversy on the formation and evolution of the oceanic lithosphere once and for all, filling the gap between seismological and seismic reflection methods, opening up a new frontier of research, and creating synergy between academic and industrial research to address fundamental scientific problems. These new seismic data should also provide images of melt lenses in the mantle beneath the spreading centre axis, if present, which will help us to build a new model of melt generation and migration from the mantle. We should also be able to image deep penetrating faults that might have been generated due to the cooling of the lithosphere as it moved away from the spreading centre, allowing the development of a new model of hydration of the oceanic lithosphere, which would be extremely valuable for the understanding of the earthquake process at subduction zones. The imaging of the structure down to 120 km in an oceanic environment would be a major breakthrough, and likely to open up new horizons for deep seismic imaging.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-AG | Phase: ERC-AG-PE10 | Award Amount: 2.50M | Year: 2014

Ancient records of the geomagnetic field intensity provide the unique source of information on the evolution of the geodynamo. The paleomagnetic data contain a broad spectrum of dipole moment fluctuations with polarity reversals and excursions that typically occur during periods of very low field intensity, but the amplitude and the timing of the variations as well as critical features remain debated. The variability of the dipole with rapid fluctuations combined with long-term changes must be clarified to understand what controls the dipole strength, why it fluctuates and what is the cause of polarity reversals. Much has been learned for the past 30 years from records of paleointensity relying on natural remanent magnetization of sediments and lava flows, but large uncertainties persist and major features of the field remain poorly documented, pointing out the limits of the approach. As an alternative to magnetization, changes in geomagnetic intensity can be reconstructed from the production of cosmogenic 10Be. The 10Be production can be measured with confidence from sedimentary sequences. Our main objective is to build up a worldwide database of the dipole field changes for the past 5 Ma by acquiring high resolution records of 10Be production from a worldwide set of selected sediment cores. The Accelerator mass spectrometry national facility ASTER at CEREGE dedicated to 10Be measurements offers this unique opportunity. Accurate time control will be obtained by astronomical calibration of paleoenvironmental records. In parallel, we will focus on the short-term field changes occurring during geomagnetic reversals. This will be addressed by combining detailed paleomagnetic records of reversals from volcanic sequences with high resolution 10Be measurements from marine cores that recorded the same reversals. Predictions of numerical geodynamo simulations will be tested against the data.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-IF-EF-ST | Phase: MSCA-IF-2015-EF | Award Amount: 173.08K | Year: 2016

Arsenic is a notorious toxin, and as such may have exerted a strong selective pressure on the distribution and evolution of life on Earth. Despite evidence supporting the high levels and prominent role of As on the primitive Earth, the essentiality and toxicity of As, and its impact on evolutionary processes remains unexplored. AsLife aims at taking a novel approach to assessing microbial As cycling by exploiting two linked environments. The first are the microbial mats from High-Altitude Andean Lakes, where it is known that As concentrations are far above background levels. Specifically, living and diagenetically-modified microbial mats will be investigated using scanning hard X-ray nanoprobes emerging at synchrotron facilities. This non-invasive and non-destructive technique provides data on a sub-micrometer scale by which to tie physiological inference from trace metal(loid)s distribution and speciation patterns directly to the microfossil biomass. Thus, providing a means to understand the interplay between microbial metabolisms and bio-availability of trace metal(loid)s in living and fossil ecosystems. The second environment comprises laboratory cultures, using the sampling power of adaptive laboratory evolution to explore how microbes adapt and enhance As detoxification facing the extreme As levels present in Andean Lakes. These results will be discussed in light of genomic studies of As-rich microbiota performed by Argentinian colleagues. During this project I will contact colleagues of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in charge of the 2020 Mars Science Rover Mission and linked objective of returning samples for future analysis on Earth. I believe that my expertise in imaging and analyzing bio-geochemical proxies at multiple scales on a encapsulated geological sample can be relevant for contributing to the Seek Signs of Life Exploration Strategy of the 2020 Mission, thus establishing a strong and effective collaboration between EU and USA.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-IF-EF-CAR | Phase: MSCA-IF-2015-EF | Award Amount: 185.08K | Year: 2016

The stable isotope geochemistry of chlorine (Cl) and bromine (Br) are considerably different. While most Cl isotope data are in the range from -1.21 to \0.40, Br isotope data are from -0.06 to \1.48. Interesting is that Br isotope variations are of the same magnitude as Cl isotope variations. Also Br isotope values of ancient evaporites are very positive (\0.6), impossible to explain from oceans with a modern isotope composition. These data are unexpected considering the small fractionation factors for Br compared to Cl. The research we propose aims at understanding these observations and developing halogen stable isotopes to study fluid transport processes in porous media. This research has a great potential to understand the history and the migration of fluids in deep porous reservoirs which are considered for geological storage of CO2, H2 and hydrocarbons. First we aim to study historical variations of Br isotope compositions in the earths surface reservoirs. We will study Br isotope variations in ancient evaporites that reflect Br isotope ratios of the oceans at the moment they were deposited. Second to study the geochemical processes that affect Cl and Br isotope variations. Isotope fractionation during ion-filtration that has never been studied in detail. This process is important to understand subsurface fluid flow and fractionation of ions and isotopes during fluid transport. We aim at studying Cl and Br isotope variations during this process. Also redox processes have hardly been studied. Oxidation processes can increase Br isotopes values more than Cl in spite of Brs much smaller isotope fractionation factors. Third to understand our observations we will compare the data obtained during this study with the geochemical cycles of Cl and Br. This will allow us to develop future research to continue to improve our knowledge on Cl and Br isotope variations as proxies to understand chemical cycles on earth, especially in fluids in deep porous reservoirs.


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-COG | Phase: ERC-CoG-2014 | Award Amount: 2.00M | Year: 2015

Reconstructing the nature and habitat of early life is a difficult task that strongly depends on the study of rare microfossils in the ancient rock record. The preservation of such organic structures critically depends on rapid entombment in a mineral matrix. Throughout most of Earths history the oceans were silica-supersaturated, leading to precipitation of opal deposits that incorporated superbly preserved microbial cells. As we trace this record of life back in deep time, however, three important obstacles are encountered; 1) microorganisms lack sufficient morphologic complexity to be easily distinguished from each other and from certain abiologic microstructures, 2) the ancient rock record has been subjected to increased pressures and temperatures causing variable degradation of different types of microorganism, and 3) early habitats of life were dominated by hydrothermal processes that can generate abiologic organic microstructures. TRACES will study the critical transformations that occur when representative groups of microorganisms are subjected to artificial silicification and thermal alteration. At incremental steps during these experiments the (sub)micron-scale changes in structure and composition of organic cell walls are monitored. This will be compared with fossilized life in diagenetic hot spring sinters and metamorphosed Precambrian chert deposits. The combined work will lead to a dynamic model for microfossil transformation in progressively altered silica-matrices. The critical question will be answered whether certain types of microorganisms are more likely to be preserved than others. In addition, the critical nano-scale structural differences will be determined between abiologic artefacts such as carbon coatings on botryoidal quartz or adsorbed carbon on silica biomorphs and true microfossils in hydrothermal cherts. This will provide a solid scientific basis for tracing life in the oldest, most altered part of the rock record.

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