Steve Petsch

Associate Professor
Graduate Program Director for Geosciences PhD and MS
biogeochemistry
geomicrobiology
organic geochemistry
organic geochemistry
Office: 
265 Morrill Science Center
Phone: 
(413) 545-4413
Education: 
PhD 2000 Yale University
Research Interests: 

Life on our planet is constrained within bounds set by the transport and transformations of the elements. Carbon cycling in particular plays a central role in Biogeochemistry on a range of scales in time and space.

My research addresses what happens after deposition of organic matter in sediment, and as it turns out, what happens is … a lot! Processes such as diagenesis, chemical decomposition and the existence of metabolically active microorganisms at the deepest and most extreme extent of our exploration lead us to wonder why and how organic matter is preserved for millions of years in rocks.

To address this, my research test the limits of what it means to be refractory, labile or biologically available, by exploring the degradation, dissolution and utilization of ancient organic matter in soils, aquatic systems and the deep subsurface.

 

Research Interests:

  • transport and transformation of organic matter within and between sedimentary and earth surface environments
  • delivery of rock-derived fossil organic matter to earth surface reservoirs such as soils, rivers and sediment
  • long-term fate of rock-derived fossil organic matter in the geologic carbon cycle
  • microbe-rock-water interactions in subsurface environments
  • anaerobic biodegradation of shale and coal organic matter associated with methanogenesis
  • interactions between chemical, physical, microbiological and human processes in sedimentary and earth surface environments
  • global biogeochemical cycles of carbon, sulfur, oxygen
  • analytical techniques for characterization of natural organic matter in geologic materials

 

Contact us

Department of Geosciences
627 North Pleasant Street
233 Morrill Science Center
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-9297

Phone: (413) 545-2286
Fax: (413) 545-1200