AG Petrology of the Ocean Crust

Room 5320

Department of Geosciences
University of Bremen
Klagenfurter Straße 2-4
28359 Bremen

Phone: +49 421 218 65405
Fax: +49 421 218 98 65405

Palash Kumawat

Research Interests

I’m a biogeochemist studying fluid-microbe-mineral interactions at shallow subduction settings, and in ancient serpentinites from similar paleo-environments; investigating their role in harboring chemosynthetic life in extreme environments. Geofuel emissions like H2 and CH4 produced during low-temperature fluid interactions and pervasive serpentinization in ultramafic rocks have been suggested to be cardinal in harboring chemosynthetic life. Serpentinization is an ancient process, where the places of serpentinization are modern analogs of the primordial Earth. Serpentinization and its reaction products must have provided chemical disequilibria, redox potential, and a highly alkaline environment. The serpentinizing environment and essential precursor biomolecules must have served as a prebiotic soup from life to emerge! This knowledge can also be applied to analogous environments on other celestial bodies, thereby extending our understanding of extreme environments beyond Earth.

I employ various petrological, and geochemical methods to asses serpentinization-related redox states and quantify H2 and CH4 productions in these systems. My interest also lies in Reaction-Path and Bioenergetics modeling to investigate fluid mixing scenarios & shed light on the bio-availability of these geofuels.

I use tools like molecular lipid biomarker analysis to characterize and study extremophilic microbial communities and microbial physiological responses to environmental changes.

Scientific Career

  • 01/2023 - today: Doctoral Researcher at “Petrology of the Ocean Crust”, University of Bremen, Germany
  • 10/2019 - 11/2022: M.Sc. Marine Geosciences, University of Bremen, Germany
    • Master thesis: "Characterization of microbial lipid patterns in serpentinite seafloor deposits"
  • 06/2019: B.Sc. Geology, St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), University of Mumbai, India


Cruise participations

  • 10/2020 - 11/2020: RV Maria S. Merian (MSM96-MetalML) - Porcupine Abyssal Plain, North Atlantic Ocean
  • 06/2022 - 07/2022: RV Sonne (SO292/2) - Mariana Forearc, Pacific Ocean

Publications (peer-reviewed)

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Cruise reports

  • Menapace W, Behrendt N, Cornard P, Dmello G, Dörner S, Felgendreher M, Fleischmann T, Henningsen A, Ichiyama Y, Kinne S, Krug A, Kumawat P, Lauster B, Lütjens M, Matzerath P, Stavrakoudis S, Takamizawa S, Von Kieckebusch C, Witzleb A, Xu S, Zawadzki D, Zhang J (2023): Characterization and monitoring of serpentinite mud volcanoes’ fluid/solid emissions in the Mariana Forearc (Cruise No. SO292/2), Cruise Report, 134 p.
    | doi:10.48433/cr_so292_2 |

Conference Abstracts

  • Kumawat P, Schubotz F, Bach W, Albers E (2022): Characterizing chemosynthetic microbial communities in abyssal serpentinites: a lipid biomarker approach. MARUM Ocean Floor Symposium “Understanding element ­fluxes – processes and budgets”, Bremen, Germany (Poster)
  • Kumawat P, Albers E, Wörmer L, Wendt J, Bach W, Schubotz F (2023): Characterizing chemosynthetic microbial communities in abyssal serpentinites: a lipid biomarker approach. Identifying future perspectives to link modern and ancient environments in the search for biosignatures, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany (Poster)
  • Kumawat P (2023): Serpentinization, Hydrogen & Life: Insights into modern & ancient serpentine mud volcanism. Bremen PhD Days in Marine Sciences, Vis­sel­hövede, Germany (Talk)