Organic Geochemistry Laboratory

Organic Geochemistry Laboratory New Zealand

Our work contributes to the improved understanding of environmental and climate changes, human impacts, and natural hazards in New Zealand, Australasia, Antarctica, and worldwide.

The Organic Geochemistry Laboratory (OGL) is a collaboration between GNS Science and Victoria University of Wellington. We undertake multidisciplinary and collaborative scientific research as part of national and international research projects.

Our work enables the science community, government, industries and communities to understand and assess environmental risks, manage and address the impacts of environmental and climate change, and explore future energy opportunities.

Our Expertise 

The Organic Geochemistry Laboratory team investigates the composition of bulk organic matter and specific organic compounds in environmental samples from ancient and modern aquatic and terrestrial environments, and in petroleum.

We undertake multidisciplinary and collaborative research relating to:

  • Lake, coastal and ocean research
  • Antarctic research
  • Hydrothermal systems
  • Petroleum systems
  • Earth history and life evolution

Our laboratory and equipment 

Our laboratory provides:

  • a dedicated space for researching environmental samples (e.g. microbial and plant biomass, sediments, soils, rocks, petroleum)
  • a wet chemistry facility for the extraction of a range of organic compounds from environmental samples
  • separation, purification and analysis of organic compounds by gas and liquid chromatography
  • compound-specific stable isotope analyses.

Our laboratory is equipped to extract, isolate, identify and analyse a large variety of organic compounds, including:

  • Paleoclimate indicators (e.g., alkenones and glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers, GDGTs)
  • Saturated, aromatic, and polar hydrocarbons
  • Steroids and hopanoids
  • Fatty acids
  • Pigments


We are set up to analyse biomarkers in all types of environmental samples, including:

  • Sediments
  • Soils
  • Sedimentary rocks
  • Water column particulate matter
  • Microbial and plant biomass
  • Petroleum source rocks and oils


Tracking environmental change using pigments

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We work with PhD and post-doctoral students from universities throughout New Zealand and we offer sumer research programmes to help grow the next generation of New Zealand scientists

Our capabilities include

Biomarker extraction and solvent evaporation:

  • Ultrasonic extraction
  • Soxhlet extraction
  • Accelerated Solvent Extraction (ASE)
  • Büchi rotary evaporation
  • Büchi Syncore evaporation
  • Nitrogen concentrator

 Instrumentation for biomarker analyses include

  • Gas chromatography using flame ionization detection (GC-FID), nitrogen phosphorous detection (GC-NPD) and mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS)
  • High performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (HPLC-APCI-MS)


Our Clients

Our services are provided to enhance environmental and climate research, both in New Zealand and around the world. We work closely with a range of university and science research facilities, government agencies and environmental organisations.

To arrange a visit to the lab, meet with our team or discuss a sample for analysis, please get in touch. 

  • Meet our Team

    Our lab is a collaboration between GNS Science and Victoria University of Wellington. As well as a core team from GNS Science, we also host associated scientists, alumni, PhD students, research associates and summer students and interns.


    The GNS Team:

    • Sebastian Naeher (Lead Scientist)
    • Thomas Austin (Ice Core/Organic Geochemistry Technician)
    • Valerie Stucker (Earth and Environmental Science Laboratories Manager)
    • Andy Phillips (Stable Isotope Laboratory Lead Operator)
    • Marcus Vandergoes (Paleoclimate Scientist)
    • Karyne Rogers (Environmental Scientist - Isotope Biogeochemistry)
    • Genevieve Coffey (Paleoseismologist)
    • Georgia Grant (Sedimentologist - Coastal Processes)
    • Julian Eschenroeder (PhD student from University of Otago)


    Victoria University of Wellington - associated scientists:

    • Bella Duncan (Postdoctoral Fellow)
    • Holly Winton (Postdoctoral Fellow)
    • Rob McKay (Director Antarctic research Centre)
    • Aileen Gordon (MSc student)
    • Emma DeJong (MSc student)
    • Linda Balfoort (MSc student)


    Alumni - former scientists and PhD students (in alphabetical order):

    • Patricia Anderson Johnson
    • Troy Baisden
    • Enock Rotich
    • Todd Ventura
    • Marjo Verret
    • Klaus Zink


    Alumni – former undergraduate students, research assistants, summer students (in alphabetical order):

    • Tiaan Bonica-Kururangi
    • Stuart Caird
    • Sky Halford
    • Natasha Lelieveld
    • Tahiwi Loader
    • Rebecca Pretty
    • Steven Rosenberg
    • Yaasameen Shalla
    • Li Yen Thor
    • Nikita Turton
    • Camille Visinand
    • Nicole Waldron
    • Hemi Waitaiki


    Visiting scientists and students from overseas

    • Jinhwa Shin (KOPRI) 


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GNS offers a range of internships and scholarships to support the next generation of kiwi scientists. Read about Emma de Jong's experience here.


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