Tom Wagner



Research Interests

Over the past two decades of research and training/teaching in Kiel (GEOMAR), Bremen University, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Royal NIOZ), Newcastle University and, since 2016, at The Lyell Centre at Heriot-Watt University, at I have made major achievements in two broad, interrelated themes: (1) Controls on petroleum source rock formation linked to biogeochemical cycles, past anoxic greenhouse oceans, and major global climate perturbations; (2) Carbon and nutrient cycling from land to ocean, linking the hydrological evolution of continental watersheds and global climate with marine response mechanisms. These activities have been closely tied to large international research programs, including IODP and the UK NERC-MethaneNetwork, targeting processes that cover a broad range of scales, from molecular to global and almost instantaneous (events), to centennial-millennial, to long-term geological.

The nature of my research is inherently multi-disciplinary, combining geology, palaeo-climatology/palaeo-oceanography, geochemistry (organic, inorganic, isotopic), sedimentology, hydrology, aspects of microbiology, biogeochemical and global climate modeling, and ecosystem sciences. This approach enables to improve understanding of modern processes at critical Earth surface interfaces, including soil-river transitions in tropical rainforests, river–shelf-deep sea fan transitions (e.g. Congo, Amazon, Yangtze), anoxic/euxinic redox systems (e.g. Namibian shelf), and the dynamics of organic matter transport and focusing in deep ocean sediments (e.g. North Atlantic drift deposits). This focus on the sources, fate, and interactions of organic carbon, as it moves through the modern environment, is stored in the sediments, and utilized by biological and abiological prosesses, directly underpins Ecosystem Research and the reconstruction of past climate-ocean systems, including Late Quaternary glacial-interglacial cycles and Paleogene-Mesozoic Oceanic Anoxic Events (OAEs) and Hyperthermals, and ultimately hydrocarbon source rock formation.