Geobiology is an interdisciplinary field of scientific research that explores interactions between the biosphere and the lithosphere and/or the atmosphere.
Research in geobiology at the Geophysical Laboratory includes both experimental and observational studies. Biological cycling of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur are key processes profoundly affecting Earth’s environment and history. Scientists at the Laboratory have been studying modern ecosystems with an eye to understanding how similar ecosystems and environments operated during the past. Our emphasis relies heavily on the use of stable isotopes to trace elements through biochemical cycles along with biochemical measurements of community function and composition. By understanding how these parameters work in modern ecosystems, we are then able to interpret paleoclimate, paleoecology, and paleooceanography. Our studies take us to the far reaches of the globe with long-term studies in the Australian deserts (1994-2007), tropical mangrove forest ecosystems (1999-2008), and cold, dry Arctic regions (2004-2008). The strengths of these long-term studies include an in depth understanding of how biology differs on landscape and continental scales, which provides information on current global change in addition to its value in interpreting past climate and environmental changes.