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Research Departments

Early and present Geobiosphere

  Early biosphere

Turee Creek Drilling Project, Australia (P. Philippot, IPGP)

Early habitats and origin of life on Earth


Part of the research developed in GAP is dedicated to the study of the Environments of Early Life on Earth. Our approach lies at the frontier of geology, biology and chemistry. It involves collecting the oldest and best-preserved rocks available and investigating selected samples using state-of-the-art techniques. These research activities involve numerous collaborations with colleagues from France, Europe, Australia, Africa, India and North America.


Drilling operations


Pilbara Drilling Project, Australia (P. Philippot, IPGP)

There are many uncertainties when it comes to unraveling the co-evolutionary relationship between biogeochemical cycles and life during the Precambrian. In many instances, these uncertainties arise from inadequate sample availability. For this reason we have been involved in the recent years in a variety of drilling operations with the objective of obtaining pristine, unweathered and continuous stratigrahic succession of Precambrian geobiological samples. By drilling the best preserved stratigraphic sections through critical intervals of environmental and biotic change through the Precambrian, a sample library can be obtained that allows multiple proxies for environmental changes and biological evolution to be analyzed. Since 2004, three drilling operations have been performed in Australia and South Africa. These are:


PDP Pilbara Drilling Project (performed in 2004) that intersected the 3.5 Ga old barite deposit of the Dresser Fm. (PDP2) and the 2.72 Ga old carbonate sedimentary succession of the Tumbiana Fm. (PDP1), Western Australia. PDP was supported by IPGP and INSU and performed in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA).


BBDP Barberton Barite Drilling Project (performed in 2008) that intersected the 3.24 Ga old barite deposit of the Mapepe Fm. and underlying Mendon Fm. of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa. BBDP was supported by IPGP and CNRS and performed in collaboration with the African Earth Observatory Network (AEON) as part of the !Khure Africa Project.


TCDP The Turee Creek Drilling Project (performed in 2013) that intersected the 2.45-2.2 Ga old Turee Creek Group of the Hamersley Basin Western Australia. TCDP was supported by the LabEx UniEarthS of Université Sorbonne Paris Cité and performed in collaboration with the GSWA and University of New South Wales.




The Early Life Research Group is involved in a variety of research projects funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Environments of Early Life on Earth 1 & 2), the Program of Planétologie (PNP) and the LaBex UnivEarthS (Earth as a living planet: from the early ages to its present dynamics). The aim of these projects is to perform an integrated geochemical, mineralogical and microbiological study  of PDP, BBDP, TCDP drill-core samples as well as scattered samples collected in a variety of Precambrian terranes.


Specific projects, please see:

Élodie Muller's PhD

Camille François's PhD

Marie Catherine Sforna's PhD

Yoram Teitler's PhD

Nicolas Rividi's PhD

Christophe Thomazo's PhD

Kevin Lepot's PhD

Julien Foriel's PhD