My research focuses on biogeochemical cycles, specifically the transport, transformation, and burial of organic carbon. Active margins, found at the junction between continental and marine tectonic plates, are characterized by high sediment transport rates and a close proximity between terrestrial sediment source and marine burial. These factors allow active margins to be particularly effective in the burial of organic carbon, resulting in high fidelity records of the terrestrial and marine environment spanning millions of year. Differences through time in the quantity and type of exported organic carbon from terrestrial environments can provide information on past storm frequency, sea level, precipitation regimes, vegetation type, erosion rate, and tectonic uplift.
Additionally my research follows organic carbon into active margin related subduction zones. These regions represent the ultimate sink for sediment and the associated organic matter. To refine global carbon budgets and volatile production in subduction zones I study the transformations and trajectories of organic carbon in laboratory simulations using a high temperature-high pressure sapphire anvil cell, coupled with Raman spectroscopy.
Childress, L.B. and S.D. Jacobsen. 2017. High-pressure high-temperature Raman spectroscopy of kerogen: relevance to subducted organic carbon, American Mineralogist, doi: 10.2138/am-2016-5719