Critical zone : Water and Geosystems


– Jérôme Labanowski

– Emmanuel Tertre


The terrestrial and aquatic natural environments characterize a thin film on the surface of the planet: the zone of influence, submitted to human activity, also called the “critical zone”.

This zone of influence is the location of the interactions between the hydrosphere, the geosphere, the atmosphere and the biosphere. It is also a complex bio-geochemical reactor which shapes the natural environments and regulate the availability of the constituents and resources on earth.

These interactions come out as the evolution of clay minerals and transformation of organic matter. The comprehension of the process involving the constituents in the natural systems in terms of variable human impacts requires a collaborative working approach combining several academic fields of Chemistry and Geo-sciences.

The thematic and cross-disciplinary action “Water and Geo-systems: anthropogenic sphere of influence” naturally emerged from the complementary expertise of the researchers of the Institute on water, soils, organic matters, clays and other mineral reagents.

In this area (which includes aquifers, surface water, soils and regoliths), the actions relate to the future and the evolution of natural or anthropic constituents (clay minerals, organic matter and micro-pollutants) in the continuum water/soil through the study of transfers and inter-facial reactions.

These actions, from the molecular scale to the experimental site, consist in three different themes of research:

– origin and dynamic of the contaminants within the continuum water/soil.
– Sorption and reactivity: mineral-organic interactions / transformations (at a laboratory scale and on the experimental site SEH)
– Interactions aquatic/pollutant biofilms related to the mineral phases.

The purpose is to understand how the environment influences the biofilms and also how the biofilms affect the constituents.


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