Stable isotope methods for the study of biogeochemical processes in aquatic environments and the paleoclimate

Project Details


The stable isotope laboratory at Vrije Universiteit Brussel holds infrastructure, which is managed in common by the department of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry (ANCH) and the department of Geology (GEOL).
Both research units have long-standing, complementary expertise in stable isotope analysis (method development and the study of biogeochemical processes in aquatic ecosystems for ANCH; isotope geology and the study of paleo-environments for GEOL) applied in studies of aquatic ecology, aquatic biogeochemistry, quaternary geology, and paleo-environmental and- climate reconstruction. A first research domain concerns the biogeochemical processes controlling the C and N cycles in the open ocean (focus on Southern Ocean), tropical and temperate coastal ecosystems (North Sea, Scheldt estuary, mangrove ecosystems), freshwater ecosystems (lake Kivu and Tanganyika, rivers from the Scheldt headwaters), which are studied in a global change perspective. This domain also includes studies of trophic interactions and energy and C transfer in ecosystems (e.g. deep ocean hydrothermal vents systems of the Azores Triple Junction). A second research domain concerns the study of climate change over the Holocene period (through the analysis of speleothems in Belgium, Lebanon and Yemen), the evaluation of stable isotope and trace element proxies in modern bivalve shells for the reconstruction of environmental conditions (salinity, temperature) and the determination of environment and biosphere changes linked to events from geological sequences (e.g. the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, the Paleocene-Eocene temperature maximum, the late Eocene cooling)
Effective start/end date1/01/1031/12/13


  • Paleoclimate
  • Aquatic Biogeochemistry
  • Stable isotopes

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Earth sciences
  • Chemical sciences


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