651-4044-02L  Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry Field Course

SemesterSpring Semester 2021
LecturersT. I. Eglinton, A. Gilli
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentLectures from "Micropalaeontology and Molecular Palaeontology" and "The Global Carbon Cycle - Reduced" are recommended but not mandatory for participation in the field course.

Priority is given to D-ERDW students. If space is available UZH Geography and Earth System Sciences students may attend this field course at full cost.

No registration through myStudies. The registration for excursions and field courses goes through http://exkursionen.erdw.ethz.ch only.

AbstractGeochemistry: C-sequestration in glacial flood plains, soil formation on different bedrocks, nutrient scavenging in lakes
Geo-Ecology: Geochemical, hydrologic, atmospheric interactions
Geo-Microbiology: Pioneering organisms in "new" habitats in glacial retreat areas, their role in carbon cycling. Microbes dissolving/forming minerals
Lifestyles: Physiological adaptation to extreme conditions
ObjectiveIllustrating basic geological, chemical and geo-biological topics under natural conditions and relating them to past, present and future global environmental conditions in high mountain habitats.
Each course participant focuses on a scientific question related to one of the course topics, searches for details in the literature and presents a short summary of his / her course research on the last day of the course.

Didactic Approach: Preparation lectures, investigation of field sites, sampling and sample preservation and follow-up analyses for the lab module (651-4044-01L), studying papers, exercises on concept formulation, ecosystem modeling, presentation of field results.
The preparation for the fieldwork is designed as a partial distance-learning course via the internet. Field Guides along with other course material can be viewed before the field course. Detailed introduction to the topics takes place during the course week. Students will need to complete a variety of assignments and participate at discussion forums on OLAT before and during the field course.
ContentThe field course (651-4044-02L) will take place from September 4 to September 9, 2021, in the Biogeoscience Arena Silvretta. It can be followed by a semester project in the laboratory (independent sign-up under 651-4044-01L).
Which sites will be visited in the Biogeoscience Arena Silvretta depends on the weather, accessibility in case of early snow, and the time. Selection of topics depending on course focus:
1. Biogeochemical processes in rock weathering and the formation of minerals: Gonzen, former iron mine; Alvaneu, sulfur springs. Chemical and microbially mediated transformation of carbonates and gypsum: Albula valley region.
2. Geomicrobiology and hydrogeochemistry in thermal spring (Tamina gorge, Pfäffers) and cold water mineral springs of the Lower Engadin Window: Highly mineralized spring water emerging from low-grade metamorphic rocks (Bündner shist) by ion exchange processes and release of rock interstitial fluids.
3. Geochemical nutrient sequestration in high mountain lakes and in snow and ice: Joeri lake area (Silvretta gneiss).
4. Coupled processes in biogeochemical iron, manganese, and phosphorus cycling: Jöri lake XIII.
5. Primary processes in soil and peat formation (inorganic to organic transition, carbon sequestration) and microbial colonization: Glacial retreat flood plains, early vegetation on deltas, and moraine soils.
6. Lifestyles under extreme conditions: Microorganisms and small invertebrates in ice (Cryoconite holes, Silvretta glacier), snow, and highly mineralized spring water.
7. Formation and weathering of serpentinite (Totalp), effects on soil formation, and on vegetation.
8. Economic aspects of geo-hydrology: mineral water market, wellness tourism, and geo-medical aspects.
(not all sites listed will be visited every year. The topics might vary depending on the course focus and the participants.)
Lecture notesThe new field guides and details about the course logistics will become available on OLAT in June via Details under https://lms.uzh.ch/url/RepositoryEntry/16318464010?guest=true&lang=de
(The course site will be renewed as soon as all details are available). Participants who are enrolled for this course in the excursion sign-up tool will receive further instructions during the spring semester.
LiteratureLecture slides and literature references are available on the corresponding OLAT site: Details under https://lms.uzh.ch/url/RepositoryEntry/16318464010?guest=true&lang=de
Prerequisites / NoticeSites visited and course contents can vary from year to year depending on interest, accessibility and weather conditions.
Field-work can last up to 8 hours daily and will take place at altitudes up to 3000m. This requires endurance and a certain physical fitness. Participants need to be prepared.
Target Groups: Field course and semester project work for the upper level Bachelor curriculum and for Master students.

This field course is coupled to a semester project work "651-4044-01 P Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry Lab Practical", when samples collected during the field work will be analyzed. Students who sign up for both, the field and the lab component, have priority. It is possible, however, to participate at the field section only.
The lecture course "651-4004-00L Organic Geochemistry and the Global Carbon Cycle" is a good preparations for the combined Field-Lab Course.

Students registering for the course confirm having read and accepted the terms and conditions for excursions and field courses of D-ERDW Link