• Research

The earth sciences MEET project awarded the ERC Synergy Grant 2019

The MEET project (Monitoring Earth Evolution Through Time) will receive 12.8€ over 6 years to investigate Earth’s evolution since its creation. The project is led by 3 researchers from 3 institutions in France, Germany and USA, and is held by the Université Grenoble Alpes’ Alexander Sobolev, professor at the ISTerre laboratory (CNRS/IRD/UGA/USMB/IFFSTTAR).
This project will investigate two main questions: How has Earth’s chemical composition evolved over time? And what physical processes are responsible for these changes?

Previous attempts to understand the early Earth have been stymied because rocks that are archives from this time are either destroyed or altered so that the original chemical information is gone. However, there is a unique possibility to retrieve the chemical tracers most sensitive to changes of Earth’s mantle and crust. This information is preserved as melt inclusions in crystals of minerals olivine and zircon. These are tiny drops of melt that were trapped when the mineral crystallized. They typically measure less than 15 microns and weigh just a few nanograms.

The unique microanalytical equipment for in-situ chemical analysis of such inclusions will be installed in Université Grenoble Alpes and will deliver new information on the recycling of chemical elements in the Earth and on formation of its crust since about 4.4 billion years ago to present day. The evolution of Earth has profound implications for questions in other disciplines such as the origin of life and the conditions on exoplanets.

The idea of the ERC Synergy Grant Project MEET that combines chemical and physical methods to study evolution of Earth since the very early stage of its life.

The ERC Synergy Grants, collaborative research projects

The European Research Council started the ERC Synergy Grants 2019, with a global budget of 363 million euros, to fiancé exploratory research project in all disciplines for a maximum period of 6 years. This funding is part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. Of the 37 laureats, the MEET project lead by Alexander Sobolev (Université Grenoble Alpes), Stephen Sobolev (GFZ Potsdam, Germany), and John Valley (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA) will receive 12.8€ over the course of 6 years, 6.6€ of which for the Université Grenoble Alpes.

The objective of the Synergy Grant is to enable a small group of two to four Principal Investigators and their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge, and resources in new ways, in order to jointly address research problems. The ERC shall provide attractive and flexible funding to enable creative researchers and their teams to pursue the most promising avenues at the frontier of science, in order to find solutions to complex multidisciplinary research problems. The ambition is to open the way for results that are more impactful collectively than the sum of the individual contributions.

Pr. Alexander Sobolev (UGA)

Of Russian nationality, Alexander Sobolev received his PhD in Geochemistry in 1983 from the Vernadsky Institute in Moscow. In 1999, he was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt prize, then in 001 the prestigious Wolfgang Paul Prize from the Max Planck Institute. He joined the Université Grenoble Alpes (Université Joseph Fourier) in 2009 with an Excellence Chair. Alexander Sobolev is member of the Academia Europae, of the Institut universitaire de France (senior membre, IUF), of the Sciences Academy in Russia and an American Geophysical Union Fellow.
Published on October 11, 2019