USGS - science for a changing world

USGS Soil Biogeochemistry Group

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Who we are:

The USGS Soil Biogeochemistry research group brings together scientists with a broad array of training, from genes to ecosystems from the modern to Pleistocene. We are primarily located at the Menlo Park campus of the USGS.

What we do:

Soils are where the land, air, and water meet, and as such they are critically important for the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and other elements at the Earth’s surface. Therefore, the characterization, mapping, and study of soil processes are essential for managing ecosystems and protecting water quality. Biogeochemistry integrates knowledge and techniques from a wide array of scientific disciplines in order to understand the complex and diverse world of soils.

A major focus of our research is on the form and fate of organic matter, which is found within soil, and the carbon that it contains. The storage of organic matter in soils represents a major, but dynamic reservoir of carbon. Changes in the size of this reservoir as a result of climate or land use change have the potential to dramatically influence atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Our research of organic matter dynamics in soil systems can be grouped into four main categories: Permafrost, Fire, Soil Microbiology, and Soil Development.

To learn more about our science, read some of our news releases, read a good summary of our research in this Innovations article*, or check out the Introduction to Soils class we developed.

*This link goes to a pdf. To get your free Adobe reader, click here.

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