Author : Joachim Reitner, Volker Thiel
Description:Geobiology is a highly cross-disciplinary field that explores the present and past relationships that life has with non-living matter. Biosphere meets Geosphere perhaps most parsimoniously describes the fundamental concept of Geobiology. In 1991, Peter Westbroek, a Dutch paleontologist and influential protagonist of Geobiology defined the field in a book entitled Life as a Geological Force: Dynamics of the Earth, thus motivating a new way of thinking in the geosciences. His fundamental work on processes of biomineralization in coccolithophorid algae (Westbroek and de Jong, 1983) greatly contributed to the understanding of metabolic processes controlling mineral formation. Westbroeks thinking was influenced by James Lovelocks Gaia concept (Lovelock, 1988) which advocated the importance of biological processes with regard to global change over time. Other early pioneers of the Geobiology concept were the Russian scientist Georgy Adamovich Nadson (1903), who recognised microorganisms as geological agents, and the Swiss geologists Johannes Neher and Ernst Rohrer who discovered the role of microbes in dolomite formation (Neher and Rohrer 1958) and their presence in the deep biosphere of crystalline rocks (Neher and Rohrer 1959). In 1971, the German geoscientist Gerd Luttig introduced a new discipline that merged aspects of geology and biology and called it Lithobiontik.