Prof. George Wolff
Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences
Nicholson Building, Room 213
University of Liverpool
Tel: +44 151 7944094
Fax: +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:
- The recognition of spatial variability
in sedimentary organic matter quality and quantity in marine sediments
(Santos et al., 1994).
- The first realistic mechanism for incorporation
of sulphur into biomarkers (Rowland et al., 1994).
- The significance of seasonality on the
quality and quantity of organic matter (i.e. food) reaching deep sea
ecosystems (Kiriakoulakis et al.,
2001; Ginger et al., 2001; Neto
et al., 2006)
- Evidence for the close relationship between
bethic fauna and organic matter quality in sediments and the water column
(Lambshead et al., 1995; Smallwood
et al., 1999; Ginger et al., 2001;
Billett et al., 2001; Galleron
et al., 2001; Kiriakoulakis
et al., 2004; Neto et al., 2006).
- Identification of the relationship between
the steroid biochemistry of deep-sea megafauna and their feeding strategies/ecological
niches (Ginger et al., 2000) which
has led to a potentially important hypothesis regarding the distribution
of megafauna in the deep ocean (Ginger
et al., 2001; Neto et al., 2006).
- Evidence for the association of diagenetic
and (ancient) deep bacterial processes in marine sediments (Wolff et
al., 1983; Kiriakoulakis et al.,
- Identification of novel molecular parameters
in identification of environment change (Fisher,
1999; Fisher et al., submitted).
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
- 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,
- 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).