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Sofia Barragán Montilla





+49 421 218-65982



MARUM Pavillon, 1120

Sofia Barragán Montilla


Geologist with experience in biostratigraphy and sedimentary basin analysis. Specialized in applied Micropaleontology, specifically in foraminifera applications in biostratigraphy and paleoclimatic studies. Wide experience in Cenozoic and Cretaceous benthic foraminifera from the Colombian Caribbean, Tunisia, and Spain.


  • PhD student at MARUM Institute (University of Bremen). January 2021-Present.
  • Micropaleontologist at Colombian Petroleum Institute – ICP (hired by TIP, Piedecuesta, Colombia). September 2018 - December 2020.
  • Geologist at RA Geologia (Bogotá, Colombia). February 2016 - September 2017.


  • MSc. in Applied Geology: techniques and applications. University of Zaragoza (2017-2018)
  • BSc. in Geology. National University of Colombia, Bogotá (2011-2015)


Methane seepage activity of NW Africa during the last deglaciation and its relation with global climate change; paleoenvironmental multiproxy analysis using foraminifera

The oceans occupy ∼ 71 % of the earth’s surface and play an important role in climate stability through the interchange of carbon with the atmosphere (Veirty et al., 2002). This interaction has led to past changes in the earth’s climate that can help us comprehend the current climatic crisis our planet is experiencing, offering a detailed picture of the possible future scenarios thus allowing us to make conscious decisions. For this reason, researchers have been using different tools and methodologies to reconstruct past climate changes and understand the factors that have triggered critical environmental moments in the past.

Methane (CH4) can be stored in two forms in marine sediments along continental margins, as ice-like gas hydrate deposits (Archer et al., 2008) and shallow subsurface gas deposits (Portilho-Ramos et al., 2018). These deposits are formed under low temperature and high-pressure conditions, and variations in such parameters result in the release of this greenhouse gas into the ocean and the atmosphere (Kvenvolden, 1993). Since the Last Glacial Period, changes in global sea level and temperature have onset Methane seepage activity in the poles and along continental margins in the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic oceans, releasing considerable amounts of methane to ocean waters (Biastoch et al., 2011; Cook et al. 2011; Rathburn et al., 2000; Skarke et al., 2014; Portilho-Ramos et al., 2018). Part of this greenhouse gas is processed by deep ocean bacteria through anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) and the remaining travels to shallower sea waters finally being released to the atmosphere. Enhanced AOM can result in ocean acidification and oxygen depletion affecting local environmental stability, while the gas released to the atmosphere contributes to global warming (Biastoch et al., 2011).

Benthic foraminifera adapt and inhabit environments with active methane seeps, furthermore, certain species become dominant in these settings albeit diversity and population density tend to strongly decrease (Dessandier et al., 2019). Changes in assemblages’ compositions of this microfossil group record past climate changes and provide a high-resolution picture of how temperature, oxygenation and trophic levels have varied through time and their part on global climate regulation (Sharon et al., 2020; Alegret et al., 2021). For this reason, their study in zones affected by methane release could provide valuable insights into how environmental parameters are affected by methane seepage and their influence on global climate change.

As methane seepage produces significant changes in environmental parameters of ocean waters before being released to the atmosphere, we intend to integrate qualitative and quantitative analysis of benthic foraminifera, with geochemical records (δ13C and δ18O from planktic and benthic foraminifera and Mg/Ca ratios of benthic foraminifera), to reconstruct environmental trends in the last 30.000 years and observe how methane seepage activity has influenced environmental changes in the upper slope of Mauritania (NW Africa). In this area active methane seeps have been seen (Sanz et al., 2017), offering an excellent opportunity to study this phenomenon and comprehend its influence on Global Climate stability.

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