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Biogeophysics: Exploring Earth’s subsurface biosphere using geophysical approaches

Event Type

Event Date

Monday, September 21, 2020

Event Location

Event Address


Event Start

4 PM (US Eastern Daylight Time)

Event End

5 PM (US Eastern Daylight Time)

Event Details


Format: Virtual Webinar. 45 min. presentation followed by 15 min. Q&A

Please note that two sessions will be given at different dates listed below.

Session 1, Thursday, April 30, 2020, 11 am to 12 pm Eastern Daylight Time Register Here

Session 2, Monday, September 21, 2020, 4 pm to 5 pm Eastern Daylight Time Register Here



Microorganisms are found in almost every conceivable niche of the Earth from hydrothermal vents in the deep ocean basins to the cold subglacial lakes of ice sheets. As such, microorganisms have played an important role in transforming Earth systems (e.g., accelerating mineral weathering), global climate change, and mediating different biogeochemical cycles over most of Earth’s 4 billion history. In-situ microbial-rock interactions are dynamic and occur at both temporal and spatial scales that prove difficult to investigate at resolutions needed to fully understand them, thus necessitating the need for the development of noninvasive tools/sensors to interrogate these processes. Interestingly, these microbial-rock interactions modulate changes in physical properties in the rocks, generating measurable geophysical signatures that can be recorded with conventional geophysical sensors (e.g., seismic, magnetics, electromagnetics). The recognition of these microbial-catalyzed changes in geophysical signatures resulted in the development of biogeophysics: the study of the physical changes in earth materials catalyzed by microorganisms. In this presentation, I will provide examples of how geophysical tools are used to sense subsurface microbial activity, from cell growth and biofilm formation to biomineralization and biogeochemical cycling of metals to the monitoring of bioremediation and their use for investigating oilfield microbial processes and the search for life on other planets. Challenges and limitations also will be highlighted, and potential for future advancements in the field will be discussed.