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Evolution of the biosphere

Trilobites. Photo: Ashley Gumsley
Cambrian agnostides. Photo: Per Ahberg

We focus on the evolution of life and sedimentary basins through Earth’s history. The approach is multidisciplinary involving palaeontology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, and biogeochemistry, with the aim to decipher the evolution of the biosphere relative to environmental and palaeogeographical dynamics. Through petrographic and stratigraphic analysis of sedimentary rocks from around the world we reconstruct ancient marine and terrestrial environments and study their evolution in time and space. We also study various fossil groups and their palaeobiology and palaeoecology to understand forcing and feed-back mechanisms and biodiversity changes in ancient environments. The research includes study of the history of the carbon cycle and its relation to biodiversity and climatic changes through deep time. The theme further includes an astronomical perspective whereby studies of extraterrestrial matter and impact craters provide information about the history of the solar system, and possible relationships between astronomical processes and the evolution of life. A new and innovative sub-discipline embraced within this theme is molecular palaeobiology, which concerns the investigation of fossil biomarkers and labile soft tissue structures, using cutting edge imaging, molecular and chemical techniques. This work is carried out in close collaboration with colleagues at the MAX-IV laboratory and the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. Given recent methodological advances, refined analytical techniques, and the ground-breaking discoveries made so far, we envisage this part of the theme to attract extensive international recognition.­

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