European Research Council Consolidator Grant: MINORG (The Role of Minerals in the Oceanic Carbon Cycle)

The MinOrg project seeks to better understand the controls on the preservation of organic carbon in seawater and marine sediments. The amount of organic carbon buried in marine sediments has profound consequences for the Earth system because, although only a very small amount of oceanic primary productivity is ever preserved into the rock record, this organic carbon helps regulate atmospheric carbon dioxide and oxygen, and so plays a vital role in maintaining our habitable planet. There are many factors that can help slow the degradation of organic carbon and thus promote its preservation, including a lack of exposure to oxygen, but in addition, the association of organic carbon with highly reactive marine minerals might also act to protect and stabilise particular carbon molecules, ultimately resulting in their preservation and burial.

In MinOrg a team of researchers lead by Professor Caroline Peacock and including collaborative partners at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, are using a multidisciplinary approach combining biogeochemistry, geomicrobiology and biogeochemical modelling to better understand how organic carbon interacts with marine minerals, how the resulting organominerals are processed in the marine environment, and whether mineralogical controls on carbon reactivity and cycling play an important role in the global carbon cycle.