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Katrin Heindel has been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship of the European Union

Start of the FP7 IEF Marie Curie Project “Formation mechanisms of Early Triassic microbialites” of Katrin Heindel and Jörn Peckmann in April 2012

Photographs of microbialites forming microbial reefs from the site Kuh e Surmeh in Iran. The microbialites are on top of fossil lean bedded carbonate deposits, 1.30 m above the mass extinction event beds (A, bar: 30 cm). Close-up of a microbialite at the base of the microbial reef, the arrow points to the top of the microbialite (B).

Katrin Heindel

The goal of the project is to understand the causes and modes of microbialite formation in critical periods of Earth history, typified by changing environments using the example of the Permian-Triassic-Boundary mass extinction event, the most fatal ever. In the aftermath of this mass extinction, microbialite-forming microbes became major components of the marine ecosystem, whereas >90% of marine species went extinct. Despite of considerable efforts in recent years, microbialite formation and its environmental significance remain poorly understood. Moreover, understanding the past will assist our understanding of ongoing and upcoming climatic and environmental change. To achieve the project goals, a multi proxy study will be pursued on well-preserved Early Triassic microbialites from Iran and Turkey that encompasses the analysis of (1) lipid biomarkers and compound-specific carbon isotopes, (2) spatial relationships of organic compounds and carbonate minerals (ToF-SIMS), (3) sulphur isotopes of carbonate-bound sulphate and sulphide minerals, and (4) petrographic characterization (microscopy, FIB-SEM, TEM).


Principal Investigators:

  • Katrin Heindel (University of Vienna)
  • Jörn Peckmann (Universtity of Vienna)



National and international partners are:

  • Sylvain Richoz (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz)
  • Daniel Birgel (Department of Geodynamics and Sedimentology, University of Vienna)
  • Rainer Abart (Department of Lithospheric Research, University of Vienna)
  • Benjamin Brunner (Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany)
  • Leopold Krystyn (Department of Paleontology, University of Vienna)
  • Robert Riding (Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, USA)
  • Roger Summons (Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, MIT, Cambridge, USA)
  • Volker Thiel (Geobiology group, University of Göttingen, Germany)


More information on the project.

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University of Vienna

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