About & Research

This blog started when I was a geology student at the Free University of Berlin to share my passion for the geosciences with like-minded people. The blog re-started in 2015 when I pick it up again as an outlet from finishing my doctoral thesis. It is not an official account of my university or any other institution.

Blog Name: It took me long to understand the multitudes of geological knowledge and I frequently felt lost. That gladly changed drastically and I found a great passion for the geosciences!

I am a doctoral researcher at the Department of Engineering Geology, Technical University of Munich, Germany with an expected submission date in December 2016. My doctoral research aims at elucidating the genesis of calcium, magnesium and sodium bentonite deposits in marine and terrestrial depositional environments. Authigenic soil and groundwater dolomites in bentonites, the role of pedogenesis, and Ca & Mg provenance for Mid-Miocene bentonites of the North Alpine Foreland Basin are my main focus. My research is complemented by boron isotope geochemistry of smectites from bentonite deposits in the United States, Argentina, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Georgia and Armenia. I use boron to unravel the chemical composition and salinity of fluids during smectitization, and to reveal differences in calcium, magnesium and sodium bentonite formation.

I have supervised 1st and 2nd semester students in introductionary geology classes, and co-introduced them to geological maps and profiles. Also, I co-lead field trips to Quaternary and Cenozoic Molasse Basin sediments in Southern Bavaria, Germany. Three Bachelor students and their Bachelor thesis projects were supervised or co-supervised by me.

Before embarking on my doctoral studies I have been at the Technical University Mining Academy Freiberg and the Free University of Berlin. I graduated from the Free University of Berlin with a Diplom degree in geology/palaeontology (the old German equivalent of a Master). My diploma thesis was about the microfacies, diagenesis, geochemistry and raw material properties of oolithic, shallow marine Jurassic carbonate rocks.

Main Expertise: 
  • Field geology, bentonite/hectorite, clay minerals and deposits, carbonate sedimentology, industrial minerals, X-ray diffraction, handheld X-ray fluorescence and isotope geochemistry.

Research focus: 
  • Paleo-salinity and fluid composition for Na, Ca and Mg bentonite formation. 
  • Genesis and raw material properties of Bavarian bentonite, Southern Germany. 
  • Li-clay (hectorite) deposit formation, Li sources, and alteration mechanisms. 
  • Terrestrial dolomite formation in paleosols & the role of carbonates in clay genesis.
  • Industrial mineral deposits geology/mineralogy. 
  • Whole-rock and clay mineral composition in Permian salt deposits [together with Dr. C. Leitner]

Diplomarbeit (Master thesis) and Diplomkartierung (Master mapping project):
  • Mikrofazies, Diagenese und Geochemie des Hauptrogensteins aus dem Pfirter Jura - (Microfacies, diagenesis and geochemistry of the "Hauptrogenstein" from the region of Ferrette, France).
  • Kartierung, Dokumentation und rohstoffgeologische Betrachtungen zum Braunen Jura und Hauptrogenstein im Markgr√§flerland - (Mapping, documentation and raw material aspects of the Brown Jurassic and Hauptrogenstein of the Margraves' Land).

I have been lucky to be recognized by several awards:
  • Best Student Oral Presentation, EuroClay 2015, Edinburgh, UK.
  • Blair F. Jones/Jane M. Flinn Travel Award 2015, Clay Minerals Society.
  • Robert C. Reynolds, Jr. Research Award 2014, Clay Minerals Society.
  • Clay Minerals Society Student Research Grant 2014, Clay Minerals Society.
  • SEGF Graduate Student Fellowship Award 2012, Society of Economic Geologists.
  • 2nd place Student Oral Competition, 6th Mid-European Clay Conference 2012, Pruhonice, Czech Republic

Several field and analytical techniques define my work, and I have several years of experiences in:
  • Hands-on fieldwork, sampling, and geological mapping of Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Tertiary volcanic and sedimentary terrains of Central Europe (especially Germany & France), Peru (Coastal plains and Andes) and the United States (Arizona).
  • Clay mineral deposit formation, especially bentonite and hectorite.
  • Depositional environments and formation of carbonate rocks, i.e. dolomite and calcite.
  • X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD) and Rietveld refinement with BGMNwin/Profex + identification of swelling clay minerals.
  • X-ray fluorescence (p-XRF) using a handheld ED-XRF Bruker Tracer III-SD and Artax software
  • Environmental Scanning electron microscopy (ESEM)
  • Prompt gamma neutron activation analysis (PGAA) at the research neutron source Heinz Maier-Leibnitz (FRM II), Garching, Germany.
  • Polarization microscopy of sedimentary and volcanic rocks.
  • Stable and radiogenic isotopes (C, O, B, Sr) using SIMS and other methods. 
You can also find me at:

ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mathias_Koester
LinkedIn: http://de.linkedin.com/in/mathiashkoester