University Tübingen – Department of Geosciences

University of Tübingen – Department of Geosciences

Three active research groups focus on sedimentary systems in Tübingen (in order from most recent to more established):

  1. The newly established (2021) Group for Terrestrial Sedimentology (Kathryn Fitzsimmons) is interested in continental clastic sedimentary environments, particularly (though not exclusively) from the Quaternary and Anthropocene.
  2. The Sedimentology and Organic Geochemistry Group (Jan-Peter Duda) examines sedimentary records to reconstruct the interplay between life and environment (i.e., geobiology), especially for the early Earth.
  3. The Group for Invertebrate Palaeontology (Jimmy Nebelsick) investigates sediment-organism interactions in both the Recent and in deep time.


University of Tübingen – Department of Geosciences

We have three research groups with a broad and active focus on sedimentary systems in Tübingen:

The Sedimentology and Organic Geochemistry Group (Jan-Peter Duda) examines sedimentary records to reconstruct the interplay between organisms and environment across the breadth of geological time (“geobiology”). We particularly seek to understand the emergence of microbial life in the Archean (>2.5 billion years ago), the diversification of eukaryotic life in the Neoproterozoic (1.000–541 million years ago), and ecosystem dynamics during critical transitions in the Phanerozoic. Further topics of our research are the microbial impact on sedimentation, the fate of sedimentary biosignatures (biominerals, lipid biomarkers), and the habitability of early Earth & other planetary bodies. Our research combines field and laboratory-based analytical approaches from sedimentology, paleontology, geomicrobiology, and organic geochemistry.

The Terrestrial Sedimentology Group (Kathryn Fitzsimmons) was established in 2021. Our group has its focus on continental clastic sedimentary environments – in particular the processes affecting sediments on our Earth’s surface, and how sediments interact with the atmosphere, biosphere and anthroposphere. In particular, we aim to understand and quantify the nature of land surface change in response to climatic and other drivers, and to understand the thresholds and causes of those changes. We are also involved in investigating the interactions between people and their environments. Our group has the following analytical facilities and expertise:

  • Luminescence dating laboratories: geochronology and rates of change over Quaternary timescales
  • Electron spin resonance: geochronology and provenance of clastic sedimentary systems
  • Sedimentary petrology: grain size analysis and fundamental sedimentology

We have a strong focus on – but are not limited to - drylands, including Australia and Central Asia.

The Group for Invertebrate Palaeontology (James Nebelsick) investigates various subjects related to invertebrate palaeontology, taphonomic gradients, regional geology and palaeoclimatology. With respect to the interactions between sediments and organisms, especial emphasis is placed on: 1) Microfacies analysis of carbonate rocks including component identification, reconstructing biotic interactions and facies analysis; 2) Using the presence of macrofossil and carbonate rock fabrics to reconstruct sedimentary environments; 3) Analysing the mass accumulations of fossils and their influence on the sedimentary record; and also 4) establishing carbonate-siliciclastic gradients. These studies have included study both actualistic studies from various Recent environments as well as examples from deep time. The methodologies used range from thin section analysis, multivariate statistical analysis, computational fluid dynamics, finite element analysis and micro-computed tomography.

Study options: BSc and MSc in Geosciences


Prof. Dr. Kathryn Fitzsimmons, Terrestrial Sedimentology:

Prof. Dr. James Nebelsick, Invertebrate Palaeontology:

Junior-Prof. Dr. Jan-Peter Duda, Sedimentology and Organic Geochemistry:

Department of Geosciences

Geo- und Umweltforschungszentrum

Universität Tübingen
Schnarrenbergstr. 94-96

72076 Tübingen


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Brief descriptions of institutes doing research and training in the field of sedimentology.
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