Current and past appointments
Since 05/2018: Juniorprofessor for Mineralogy with focus on interaction between fluid, rock and microorganisms (W1) at Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Earth Sciences, Berlin, Germany
Since 06/2015: Adjunct faculty, Virginia Tech, USA
06/ 2015 – 04/2018: Research Scientist, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
08/2013 – 06/2015: Research Scientist, Virginia Tech, USA
02/2012 – 07/2013: Postdoctoral Associate, Virginia Tech, USA
2011: Research Associate, ‘focusTERRA’ geological museum and outreach center ETH Zurich, Switzerland
2011: Postdoctoral Researcher, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
03/2007 – 02/2011: Teaching assistant, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
03/2007 – 02/2011: Doctor of Sciences (Dr. sc. ETH Zurich) at the Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology, Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Thesis: “Serpentinization, fluids and life: Comparing carbon and sulfur cycles in modern and ancient environments”.
10/2001 – 10/2006: Diploma in Natural Sciences at the Department of Earth Sciences at ETH Zurich with focus on Geochemistry and Mineralogy.
Thesis: “Petrographie und Geochemie der Alten Vulkanischen Serie der Insel Patmos (Dodekanes, Griechenland)”.
Current research interests
My research largely focuses on the alteration of the oceanic lithosphere. In particular, I investigate fluid-rock interaction processes and the fundamental links between mineral reactions and biogenic activity, and how the chemical interaction between the geosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere impacts the global geochemical cycles. As oceanic lithosphere is altered various species, including H2O, S, C, Ca, and Mg, are transferred from the fluid into the rock. During subduction, dehydration reactions release and transport these species into the overlying mantle wedge. The aim of my research is to investigate the chemical and petrophysical changes during rock alteration and to evaluate the links between abiogenic and biogenic processes. This includes the study of water-rock interaction mechanisms, the controls on reaction rates and kinetics, and how mineral alteration reactions facilitate biogenic activity that may enhance, e.g., S and C storage. In addition, I investigate how these processes impact large-scale geochemical cycles. Particularly how effective this altered lithosphere is as a transport medium for inorganic and organic compounds, volatiles such as CO2 and H2O, and sulfides and metals into the mantle. In my research I use traditional and novel stable isotope systems (e.g., S, C, O, Ca) in combination with bulk rock and high-resolution in situ techniques (secondary ion mass spectrometry), μ-XANES, bulk rock major and trace element signatures, radiogenic isotopes (e.g., 87Sr/86Sr), mineralogy (electron microprobe analyses, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction), petrology, and thermodynamic modeling.
Currently, I work on several different projects:
Schwarzenbach, E.M., Gill, B.C. and Johnston, D. (2018) Unraveling multiple phases of sulfur cycling during the alteration of ancient ultramafic oceanic lithosphere. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 223, 279-299.
Cooperdock, E.H.G., Raia, N.H., Barnes, J.D., Stockli, D.F. and Schwarzenbach, E.M. (2018) Tectonic origin of serpentinites on Syros, Greece: Geochemical signatures of abyssal origin preserved in a HP/LT subduction complex. Lithos, 352-364.
Lamadrid, H.M., Rimstidt, J.D., Schwarzenbach, E.M., Klein, F., Ulrich, S., Dolocan, A. and Bodnar, R.J. (2017) Effect of water activity on rates of serpentinization of olivine. Nature Communications 8, 16107.
Schwarzenbach, E.M., Gill, B.C., Gazel, E., Madrigal, P. 2016. Sulfur and carbon geochemistry of the Santa Elena peridotites: Comparing oceanic and continental processes during peridotite alteration. Lithos 252-253, 92-108, doi:10.1016/j.lithos.2016.02.017.
Wang, X., Plansvsky, N., Reinhard, C.T., Zou, H., Ague, J., Wu, Y, Gill, B. C., Schwarzenbach, E.M., Peucker-Ehrenbrink, B., 2016.Chromium isotope fractionation during subduction-related metamorphism, black shale weathering, and hydrothermal alteration. Chemical Geology 423, 19-33, doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2016.01.003
Schwarzenbach, E.M., Caddick, M.J., Beard, B.S., Bodnar, R.J., 2015. Serpentinization, element transfer and the progressive development of zoning in veins: Evidence from a partially serpentinized harzburgite. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 171.
Klein, F., Humphris, S., Guo, W., Schubotz, F., Schwarzenbach, E.M., Orsi, W., 2015. A fossil 'Lost-City'-type hydrothermal system at the Iberia Margin: Subseafloor fluid mixing and the deep biosphere. PNAS 112, 12036-12041.
Schwarzenbach, E. M., Gazel, E., Caddick, M. J., 2014. Hydrothermal processes in partially serpentinized peridotites from Costa Rica: Evidence from native copper and complex sulfide assemblages. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 168, 1079.
Sanchez-Murillo, R., Gazel, E., Schwarzenbach, E. M., Crespo-Medina, M., Schrenk, M. O., Boll, J., Gill, B. C., 2014. Geochemical evidence for active tropical serpentinization in the Santa Elena ophiolite, Costa Rica: An analogue of a humid early Earth? Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 15 (5), 1783-1800.
Schwarzenbach, E. M., Lang, S. Q., Früh-Green, G. L., Lilley, M. D., Bernasconi, S. M., Méhay, S., 2013. Sources and cycling of carbon in continental, serpentinite-hosted alkaline springs in the Voltri Massif, Italy. Lithos, 177, 226-244.
Schwarzenbach, E. M., Früh-Green, G. L., Bernasconi, S. M., Alt, J. C., Plas. A., 2013. Serpentinization and the incorporation of carbon: A study of two ancient peridotite-hosted hydrothermal systems. Chemical Geology, 351, 115-133.
Alt, J. C., Schwarzenbach, E. M., Früh-Green, G. L., Shanks III, W. C., Bernasconi, S. M., Garrido, C. J., Crispini, L., Gaggero, L., Padron-Navarta, J. A., Marchesi, C., 2013. The role of serpentinites in cycling of carbon and sulfur: Seafloor serpentinization and subduction metamorphism. Lithos, 178, 40-54.
Schwarzenbach, E. M., Früh-Green, G. L., Bernasconi, S. M., Alt, J. C., Shanks III, W. C., Gaggero, L., Crispini, L., 2012. Sulfur geochemistry of peridotite-hosted hydrothermal systems: Comparing the Ligurian ophiolites with oceanic serpentinites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 91, 283-305
Alt, J. C., Shanks III, W. C., Crispini, L., Gaggero, L., Schwarzenbach, E. M., Früh-Green, G. L., Bernasconi, S. M., 2012. Uptake of carbon and sulfur during seafloor serpentinization and the effects of subduction metamorphism in Ligurian peridotites, Chemical Geology, 322-323, 268-277.
Früh-Green, G. L., Orcutt, B. N., Green, S., Cotterill, C. and the Expedition 357 Scientists, 2017. Atlantis Massif serpentinization and life. Proceedings of the International Ocean Discovery Program 357, doi: 10.14379/iodp.proc.357.2017
Früh-Green, G. L., Orcutt, B. N., Green, S., Cotterill, C. and the Expedition 357 Scientists, 2016. Expedition 357 Preliminary Report: Atlantis Massif serpentinization and life. International Ocean Discovery Program Preliminary Reports. doi: 10.14379/iodp.pr.357.2016
Schwarzenbach, E. M., 2016. Serpentinization and the formation of fluid pathways. Geology Research focus 44 (2), 175-176.