University of Liverpool


Prof. George Wolff

Organic Biogeochemistry,
Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences
Nicholson Building, Room 213
University of Liverpool
Tel: +44 151 7944094
: +44 151 7945196

Since my appointment at the University of Liverpool, I have tackled a number of research problems in the environment, particularly in the deep sea. I have developed links across disciplines, between organic geochemistry, geology and biology and have formed a strong research group, which has included more than 18 PhD students and 8 PDRA's. Our laboratory facilities are reasonably well equipped with elemental analysis (CHNOS), GC, HPLC, GCMS and LCMS. Additionally we have strong links with the stable isotope laboratory of Prof. Jim Marshall (also in Earth and Ocean Sciences).


In order to investigate these research areas, we use a molecular approach. The ability to identify trace organic compounds at low concentrations in natural samples, and the realization that many have specific sources, has led to their development as "biological" or anthropogenic markers. Their use, together with a properly replicated "environmental science" approach to sample collection, have allowed us to build up collaborative research with UK, European and US research scientists (see our publications). Recently, we have had a successful collaboration with Professor Ric Williams, a physical oceanographer at Liverpool, with key interests in understanding biogeochemical cycles in the global oceans.

Our principal scientific achievements include:

Presently, I have a number of projects underway, which are also of international interest. A number of these are funded externally, whilst others have PhD studentships associated with them:

  • Limitation of secondary benthic production by organic nutrients - Benthic CROZET. (With Dr. D. Billett, Prof. P. Tyler, NOCS and Dr. Alex Rogers, BAS and Prof. Monty Priede, Ocean Lab, Aberdeen).
  • The characterisation of organic materials sorbed to mineral surfaces in marine sediments. Is the monolayer hypothesis an adequate model for organic carbon preservation in marine sediments? (With Dr Richard Worden, DEOS).
  • The environment of deep-sea coral systems in the north Atlantic Ocean; the corals are recognised as being an extremely sensitive ecosystem - HERMES. (with Prof. A. Freiwald, University of Erlangen and others; EC Framework VI funded).
  • The environment of canyons cutting the European Continental Margin - HERMES (EC Framework VI funded).
  • Oceanic Seamounts: an integrated study - OASIS (Work Package Leader with Dr. Bernd Christiansen, University of Hamburg and others).
  • Benthic processes in the Arabian Sea: Interrelationships between benthos, sediment biogeochemistry and organic matter cycling (with Edinburgh, DML, SOC; NERC funded).
  • Development of analytical methodology for the analysis of dissolved organic matter in environmental samples. PhD studentship funded by University of Liverpool. (with Prof. R. Jaffé, FIU, USA).
  • Development of molecular and isotopic methods for the assessment of the dominant limitation of oceanic production in oligotrophic and high nutrient/low productivity regions. NERC funded PhD Studentship in both AMT and 36°N Consortia. (with Prof. R. Williams, DEOS, Dr. Richard Saunders, NOCS and Dr. C. Robinson).