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Katrin HEINDEL, Dr.


Room Number: 2A376
Tel.: +43-1-4277-53646
Fax: +43-1-4277-9534


Reefal microbialites

My main interest is to understand the causes and modes of microbialite formation during and in the aftermath of critical periods of Earth history, typified by changing environments using the example of the last post-glacial sea-level rise and the Permian-Triassic-Boundary mass extinction event, the most fatal ever. 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.


  • Microbialites
  • Geobiology, Geomicrobiology
  • Carbonate sedimentology
  • Mineral authigenesis
  • Organic (lipid biomarkers; GC-MS, GC-FID, ToF-SIMS) and isotope (C, O, S; GC-/GS-IRMS,) geochemistry
  • Petrographic characterization (microscopy, FIB-SEM, TEM)
  • Major and rare (earth) element patterns (LA-ICP-MS)
  • Bioerosion (resin embedding technique producing casts)
  • Facies mapping



In preparation:

Heindel, K.
, Richoz, S., Birgel, D., Thiel, V., Baud, A., Brandner, R., Krystyn, L., Mohtat, T., Koşun, E.,  Peckmann, J., Cyanobacteria-dominated microbial mats formed reefal microbialites on the margins of the Early Triassic Neotethys.

Richoz, S., Heindel, K., Baud, A., Reitner, J., Brandner, R., Birgel, D., Mohtat, T., Koşun, E., Horacek, M., Krystyn, L., Peckmann, J., Sponge-microbialite bioherms after the end-Permian mass extinction: a biosphere response.

Gischler, E., Peckmann, J., Heindel, K., Birgel, D., Brunner, B., Reitner, J., Cryptic microbialites (biostalactites) in a karst cave of the Belize Barrier Reef revisited.

Braga, J.C., Puga-Bernabeu, A., Heindel, K., Riding, R., Birgel, D., Peckmann, J., Sánchez-Almazo, I.M., Pretkovic, V., Microbialites in the Last Glacial Maximum and Deglacial Reefs in the Great Barrier Reef (IODP Expedition 325, NE Australia).

Peer reviewed:

Heindel, K., Richoz, S., Birgel, D., Brandner, R., Mohtat, T., Horacek, M., Baud, A., Krystyn, L., Klügel, A., Peckmann, J. (2015, available online December 2013). Biogeochemical formation of calyx-shaped carbonate crystal fans in the shallow subsurface of the Early Triassic seafloor. Gondwana Research, 27, 840-861. 

Guido, A., Heindel, K., Birgel, D., Rosso, A., Mastandrea, A., Sanfilippo, R., Russo, F., Peckmann, J. (2013). Pendant bioconstructions cemented by microbial carbonate in submerged marine caves (Holocene, SE Sicily). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 388, 166-180.

Heindel K., Birgel, D., Brunner, B., Thiel, V., Westphal, H., Gischler, E., Ziegenbalg, S.B., Cabioch, G., Sjövall, P. and Peckmann, J. (2012). Post-glacial microbialite formation in coral reefs in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Ocean. Chemical Geology, 304-305, 117-130.

Thomas, A.L., Fujita, K., Iryu, Y., Bard, E., Cabioch, G., Camoin, G., Cole J.E., Deschamps, P., Durand, N., Hamelin, B., Heindel, K., Henderson, G.M., Mason, A.J., Matsuda, H., Ménabréaz, L., Omori, A., Quinn, T., Sakai, S., Sato, T. Sugihara K., Takahashi, Y., Thouveny, N., Tudhope, A.W., Webster, J., Westphal, H., Yokoyama, Y. (2012). Assessing uplift rates and paleo water-depths for Tahiti reefs using U-Th chronology of altered corals. Marine Geology, 295-298, 86–94.

Heindel K., Titschack J., Dorschel B., Huvenne V.A.I & Freiwald A. (2010). Sediment composition and facies prediction mapping of a cold-water coral mound (Propeller Mound, Porcupine Seabight, NE Atlantic). Continental Shelf Research, 30, 1814-1829.

Heindel K., Birgel D., Peckmann J., Kuhnert H., & Westphal H. (2010). Formation of deglacial microbialites in coral reefs off Tahiti (IODP 310) involving sulfate-reducing bacteria. Palaios, 25, 618-635.
featured article on www.bioone.org for Nov 2010 as open access content

Westphal H., Heindel K., Brandano M. & Peckmann J. (2010). Genesis of microbialites as contemporaneous framework components of coral reefs, deglacial of Tahiti (IODP 310), Facies, 56, 337-352.

Heindel K., Westphal H. & Wisshak M. (2009). Data report: Bioerosion in the reef framework, IODP Expedition 310 off Tahiti (Tiarei, Maraa, and Faaa sites). In Camoin, G.F., Iryu, Y. McInroy, D.B., and the Expedition 310 Scientists, Proceedings IODP, 310: Washington, DC (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International, Inc.).

Heindel K., Wisshak M. & Westphal H. (2009). Microbioerosion in Tahitian reefs: A record of environmental change during the last deglacial sea-level rise (IODP 310).
Lethaia, 42, 322-340.


Heindel K., Birgel D., Peckmann J., Kuhnert H. & Westphal H. (2009).
Sulfate-reducing bacteria as major players in the formation of reef-microbialites during the last sea-level rise (Tahiti, IODP 310). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73 (13), Goldschmidt Conference, A514-A514.

Heindel K. (2009). Environmental control of the genesis of Tahitian reef microbialites during the last deglacial sea-level rise. - PhD thesis at the Geosciences Department, University of Bremen.

Westphal H., Freiwald A., Hanebuth T., Eisele M., Gürs K., Heindel K., Michel J., Reumont J.V. (2007): Report and preliminary results of Poseidon Cruise 346, MACUMA – Modern atypical tropical carbonates in the upwelling off Mauritania. Reports, FB Geowissenschaften, University Bremen, 260: 49.

Heindel K. (2004): Palaeoenvironmental reconstructions at a Carbonate Mound: Propeller Mound/ Porcupine Seabight.- unpublished masters thesis, Institute of Palaeontology, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg.

International conference contributions: get the list


Marie Curie Intra - EU Fellowship (FP7-PEOPLE-2011, 299293) of K. Heindel and J. Peckmann:

Formation mechanisms of Early Triassic microbialites in the aftermath of the greatest mass extinction (Permian-Triassic-Boundary)

 Research Sites:

  • Early Triassic microbialites in Iran and Turkey


  • Sylvain Richoz (Austrian Academy of Science c/o University of Graz, Austria)
  • 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)


ESF EuroMARC CHECREEF (IODP 310, IODP 519), individual DFG project of J. Peckmann (JP47010205):

Formation mechanisms of last post-glacial reef-microbialites and their environmental significance

       Research Sites:

  • Post-glacial coral reefs off Tahiti (IODP Expedition 310),
  • Post-glacial coral reefs off Vanuatu, Belize, and the Maldives
  • Great Barrier Reef (Australia, IODP Expedition 325)


  • Hildegard Westphal (ZMT, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology, Bremen, Germany)
  • Benjamin Brunner (Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany)
  • Juan Carlos Braga (Department of Stratigraphy and Paleontology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Granada, Spain)
  • Robert Riding (Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, USA)
  • Volker Thiel (Geobiology group, University of Göttingen, Germany)



since 2012/04                 Marie Curie fellow, Sedimentology and Stratigraphy,  Department for Geodynamics and Sedimentology (University of Vienna)

Formation mechanisms of Early Triassic microbialites in the aftermath of the greatest mass extinction (Permian-Triassic-Boundary)

2011/04 – 2012/03        Post-Doc, Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, Department for Geodynamics and Sedimentology (University of Vienna)

Formation mechanisms of last post-glacial reef-microbialites

2009/03 – 2011/02        Post-Doc, Geobiology, MARUM (Excellence Cluster „The Ocean in the Earth System“, University of Bremen)

Holocene postglacial reef-microbialites off Vanuatu, Belize, Maldives, and Tahiti

2006/01 – 2009/02        PhD, Carbonate sedimentology, MARUM (University of Bremen)

Thesis: “Environmental control of the genesis of Tahitian reef-microbialites during the last deglacial sea-level rise (IODP 310 Tahiti Sea Level)”
Supervisor: Hildegard Westphal

2005                                   ICON Added Value GmbH (analysing of market research surveys)

1998 – 2004                     MSc (Diplom) in Geology/Palaeontology (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg)

                                            Thesis: “Palaeoenvironmental reconstructions at a cold-water carbonate mound: Propeller Mound/ Porcupine Seabight”
Supervisor: André Freiwald

Mapping: “Geological mapping in the Austroalpine crystalline basement and in the Matreier Zone of the Goldried, SE of Matrei, Eastern Tyrol”



Funding and award

2012/04 – 2014/03
Marie Curie Intra-EU Fellowship of the European Union, FP7-PEOPLE-2011

2008/12 – 2009/02
MARUM scholarship for “publishing manuscripts” for outstanding PhD theses at MARUM (Excellence Cluster „The Ocean in the Earth System“, University of Bremen)


Invited talks

2015/11      Heindel, K. and Birgel, D.: Molecular fossils of prokaryotes in ancient authigenic minerals: archives of microbial activity in reefs and mounds? 1st International Carbonate Mound Conference, Monte Veritá, Ticino, Switzerland, Keynote.

2014/10      Heindel K.: Formation of microbialites through time: Holocene coral reefs compared to Early Triassic bioherms: GSA Annual Meeting, Vancouver, Canada, Keynote

2011/10      Heindel K.: What can be learned about climate change from microbialites encrusting coral reefs? Geocolloquium, University of Innsbruck, Austrian Geological Society, Austrian Mineralogical Society, and “alpS - Centre for natural hazard- and risk management GmbH" - Innsbruck, Austria

2011/05      Heindel K.: Formation processes of microbialites in last post-glacial coral reefs: Workshop, Geological Survey of Iran, Tehran, Iran.

2011/05      Heindel K.: Formation processes of microbialites in post-glacial coral reefs (Tahiti, Vanuatu, Belize, Maldives): Geosciences colloquium, University of Vienna and Austrian Geological Society, Austria

2008/05      Heindel K.: Microbial crusts in Tahitian reefs: geochemical & geobiological signals as record of last deglacial environmental changes (IODP 310): Geochemical Seminar, ICBM (University of Oldenburg), Germany

Department for Geodynamics and Sedimentology
University of Vienna

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