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Forschung / Research


My tool box: foraminifera & mollusks

My research is largely based on foraminifera, single-celled organisms which produce shells (mostly made out of carbonate and/or sediment particles) that are preserved in marine sediments. I extract these microfossils from sediments and apply them as tools for stratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental  reconstruction. My approach integrates classic micropalaelontology (identification of stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental index species; quantitative assemblage analyses) and shell geochemistry (stable isotopes, trace metals). To a lesser extent I use mollusk shell geochemistry to address short-term, i.e. seasonal climate variability.

With this arsenal of tools at hand, I strive to gain new insights into paleoecosystems and the role of the North Atlantic/Mediterranean/Paratethys region in the Cenozoic ocean-climate system.


My homebase: Evolution of the Paratethys sea

From Oligocene through middle Miocene, the epicontinental Paratethys sea covered large parts of Central and Eastern Europe. Unravelling its complex paleo(bio)geographic history and stratigraphy remains challenging and many questions are still unresolved. The Alpine Foreland Basin and the Vienna Basin, two major sedimentary basins of the Central Paratethys, are in the main focus of my research efforts. Through integration of micropaleontological and geochemical data I aim to improve the stratigraphic framework of the Paratethys, and to test palaeoecological, paleoclimatic and paleogeographic concepts. This research is funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Rohöl-Aufsuchungs AG

Key publications: Grunert et al., 2015; 2014; 2013; 2012; 2011; 2010a; 2010b; Harzhauser et al., 2011; Paulissen et al., 2011


My getaway: Mediterranean/Atlantic exchange since the late Miocene and its contribution to North Atlantic circulation patterns

Most of my ongoing research activities go back to my participation in IODP Expedition 339 and aim towards a better understanding of Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW) behavior in different climatic states and its contribution to circulation patterns in the North Atlantic. Particular focus is given to the re-establishment of Mediterranean/Atlantic exchange through the Gibraltar Strait after the Messinian Salinity Crisis, and the reconstruction of MOW at the Pliocene/Pleistocene transition. Benthic foraminifera are particularly useful in this context for the reconstruction of bottom water currents created by MOW. My research on these topics is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF-project P25831-N29), the Max Kade Foundation, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the ESF Research Networking Program.

Key publications: Grunert et al., 2016; Van der Schee et al., 2016; Grunert et al., 2015; Rodríguez-Tovar et al., 2015; Bahr et al., 2014; Hernández-Molina et al., 2014





Heinrichstraße 26
8010 Graz

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