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New Lise-Meitner-fellow Steffen Kiel: Research on methane seepage in the Calcareous Alps

In January 2015, paleontologist Steffen Kiel starts an FWF-funded Lise-Meitner-fellowship to search for evidence of methane seepage in the Northern Calcareous Alps in Austria.

The project focuses on mass occurrences of brachiopods such as Halorella, especially in Neptunian dikes in the Hallstatt facies associated with salt diapirism. Steffen Kiel and Jörn Peckmann have a long history of joint interdisciplinary research on ancient methane seep systems, combining paleontological, petrographic and (organic) geochemical approaches. In the present project we will test a novel approach of identifying ancient methane seeps in carbonate-hosted environments based on trace metal abundance and we will investigate the potential adaptations of the occurring brachiopods to cope with different fluid flow regimes. We hope that the project will provide new insights into the long-term evolutionary history of the deep-sea vent and seep fauna and the adaptations of extinct taxa to these ecosystems, as well as into habitat diversity and rock-forming processes in the Austrian Calcareous Alps and the Tethys Ocean in general.

Department for Geodynamics and Sedimentology
University of Vienna

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