BASALT Research Objectives
To understand the creation and preservation of organic biomarkers associated with microbial communities inhabiting terrestrial volcanic terrains. In particular, to investigate: 1) the hypothesized relationship between geochemical and mineralogical properties of the basalts and associated microbial communities; 2) the minimum detection limit for organic biomass markers in volcanic materials; 3) how aqueous alteration events affect the potential for preservation and detection of organic (lipid) biomarkers.
Dr Slater is an organic and isotope geochemist whose interests focus on understanding microbial carbon sources and cycling and the biosignatures they leave behind. His research addresses these questions across a range of extreme environments including: the deep terrestrial subsurface (1-4 kilometers below land surface), endolithic microbial communities in the Atacama desert, the Arctic and the Antarctic, and the Pavilion Lake microbialites along with many other surface soil and sedimentary environments.