Scientific activity of the Department is developed in the following resrach areas:
1. Marine Geology and Geochemistry of the Oceans and Seas.
2. Marine Micropaleontology and Paleogeographical Reconstructions.
3. Mineral Resources and Ecological Geology oOf Oceans, Seas, and the Coastal Zone.
5. Paleontology and Stratigraphy.
6. Mineralogy and Petrography.
1. Marine Geology and Geochemistry of the Oceans and Seas:
Research in this area was stimulated by the opening of the Applied Research Laboratory of Marine Geology and Geochemistry in 1978. Studies have been carried out in the Indian and Atlantic oceans, and in the Black Sea, Mediterranean, Caspian, and Northern seas, under the supervision of G.G. Tkachenko, A.P. Cherednichenko, and B.S. Slyusar`. The authors of studies and leading supervisors over different time periods were G.G. Tkachenko, I.P. Zelinskiy, V.V. Yanko, L.V. Ischenko, E.P. Larchenkov, V.P. Reznik, O.P. Kravchyuk, S.A. Kopylov, O.E. Fesyunov, S.A. Vereschaka, V.V. Nikulin, A.P. Cherednichenko, I.A. Suchkov, and others.
The following results have been obtained:
• a hydrocarbon gas survey in the northwestern Black Sea shelf and the Sea of Azov was carried out;
• the first engineering-geological regional map of the bottom of the Sea of Azov was constructed, according to data acquired after the laying of submarine pipelines;
• ferromanganese and sulfide hydrothermal ore forming processes in the Indian Ocean were studied, and maps of mineral resource distribution in the Atlantic and Indian oceans were constructed;
• commercial quantities of fine gold were discovered on the Black Sea shelf.
2. Marine Micropaleontology and Paleogeographical Reconstructions:
Studies began in the 1970s by V.V. Yanko, who created the micropaleontological laboratory in the Paleontological Museum of ONU and formed unique collections of benthic foraminifers. Micropaleontological studies have been carried out within the frame of large international projects, including projects financially supported by the European Commission, such as AVICENNE “New kind of biological monitoring of heavy metals for the Eastern Mediterranean on benthic foraminifera” (1992-1996), COPERNICUS “Pollution by oil and herbicides in the Black Sea: Novel detection technologies and biological impact” (1997-2000), HERMES “Hotspot Ecosystems Research on the Margins of European Seas,” and WAPCOAST “Water Pollution Prevention Options for Coastal Zones and Tourist Areas: Application to the Danube Delta Front Area” (2011-2013). Undergraduates, PhD students, and staff of ONU as well as of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine have taken part in these projects. Up to ten PhD and one doctoral thesis were based on materials obtained from these projects. Numerous papers and monographs in prestigious national and foreign journals were also published.
The following results were obtained:
• fundamental approaches to diagnosing bottom sediment pollution using different sources including heavy metals, oil, pesticides, etc. in seas and oceans were improved;
• a detailed stratigraphy of the Late Quaternary basins of the Ponto-Caspian area based on benthic foraminifera was created;
• paleogeographic reconstructions of the Ponto-Caspian basins according to microfauna were carried out;
3. Mineral Resources and Ecological Geology of Oceans, Seas, and the Coastal Zone:
The marine ecological-geological area has become the leading research component of the department and laboratory since the beginning of the 1990s. Ecological-geological investigation has been provided by the department during oil and gas surveys on the shelf of the Black Sea. Ecological-geological survey is compulsory in order to prepare geological structures for drilling and exploitation. Studies have been carried out that were aimed at estimating the influence of bottom sediments and the water column on ecological conditions of the marine environment as well as analysis of the role of hydrocarbon gases as indicators of environmental pollution. Geoecosystems of the Black Sea continue to be studied, as well as migration and transformation of pollutants in the water column and in bottom deposits. As the result, the first ecological-geological map of the northwestern shelf of the Black Sea was completed.
Within the frame of this research area, studies of Black Sea methane are being conducted from the perspective of energy resource exploitation because the basin holds great promise for new energy sources to supply the Black Sea countries and most of Europe as well. The amount of methane is several times larger than the known gas reservoirs on Earth. Its presence under the sea bottom is evident from outbursts of submarine mud volcanoes that commonly contain ice-like aggregates of gas (largely methane) hydrates as well as many high-intensity gas seeps and gas bogs that release huge quantities of methane. While gas seepages can be used as indicators for oil exploration, mud volcanoes can indicate the oil and gas deposits under the sea bottom. It appears that methane in the sea water affects biota in a negative way. Eruptions of mud volcanoes are dangerous for navigation and communications or industrial equipment (cables, gas pipes, etc.) on the sea bottom. In this area, the department collaborates closely with the Department of Marine Geology and Sedimentary Ore Formation of the NAS of Ukraine (academician E.F. Shnyukov).
On an interdisciplinary level, geotoxicological research is focused on studies of the interaction between the geological environment and ecological systems. This research provides a complex evaluation of conditions and influences of a heterogeneous nature. In the complex of geotoxicological studies, the priority belongs to the geological approach for the estimation of environmental quality as well as for analysis of spatial-temporal patterns of matter migration and transformation of physical fields under modern conditions.
5. Paleontology and Stratigraphy:
This research is carried out through the auspices of the Paleontological Museum of ONU and the Underground Reserve, which are entities of particular value not only in Ukraine but also on an international scale. The Museum possesses an exclusive regional collection of fossils, which were collected in the South of East European platform (Ukraine and Moldova), and unique collections of faunal and floral fossils, of which the latter is almost absent in other museums of the world. The research has allowed a revision of studies into the classical and newly discovered cave sites containing vertebrate animals of the Northern Prichernomor`e as well as complex studies of sites of Late Neogene and Quaternary vertebrate animals of the Northern Prichernomor`e.
6. Mineralogy and Petrography:
The following aspects of rocks, minerals, and mineral deposit research are studied:
• accessory minerals of the Ukrainian shield
• mineralogical composition of bottom sedimentary deposits and ore formations of the Black Sea and other areas of the World Ocean
• processes of pathogenic biomineral formation in the human body
• the composition of terrigenous-mineralogical provinces of the Black Sea shelf
• patterns of placer formation processes on the continental shelf
This area is dedicated to the study of the influence of climate and sea-level change on human adaptive strategies in the Caspian-Black Sea-Mediterranean Corridor during the Quaternary period. The branch was formed during the last decade within the frame of the International Program of Geological Correlation under the auspices of UNESCO and the International Geological Union. This branch was developed jointly with the Historical Faculty (the Department of Archaeology and Ethnology) of ONU (http://onu.edu.ua/en/structure/faculty/history/arhch/) as well as with numerous scientists from 32 countries, 86 institutions and universities. The department collaborates also with the European Program of Marine Geoarchaeology SPLASHCOS “Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology and Landscapes of the Continental Shelf” (http://www.splashcos.org/), where the Head of the Department, Prof. V.V. Yanko, is the official representative from Ukraine and a Member of the Coordination Council of the Program.