I was born in Vilnius, Lithuania. I obtained my BS in Chemistry at Jacobs University (Bremen, Germany) in 2011. I obtained my MS and PhD in Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, USA) in 2014 and 2017, respectively, where I worked with Doug Hammond and Josh West on Ge and Si isotope systematics in continental and marine low-temperature environments. I am currently at the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK), working with Ed Tipper and Mike Bickle on weathering and carbon fluxes of large rivers. I am also interested in the interface between science and public policy.
Dr. J. Jotautas Baronas
Dept of Earth Sciences
Cambridge, CB2 3EQ
Large river systems in tropical regions are hotspots of weathering and zones of major carbon transfer from the atmosphere and continents to the oceans. The same weathering reactions also provide nutrients that sustain agriculture over entire continents. Recent work has shown that this carbon transfer is not as simple as thought previously, and multiple competing processes, such as oxidation of organic matter and weathering of carbonate and silicate rocks could actually release CO2 back the atmosphere. Critical regions in Southeast Asia have especially been neglected due to previous logistical hurdles, despite accounting for a large portion of global weathering and carbon fluxes. I am working with Ed Tipper and Mike Bickle at the University of Cambridge to address this gap. We are leading numerous sampling expeditions across six different countries and conducting suite of dedicated chemical analyses from the Mekong, Irrawaddy, and Salween rivers, which will result in a better understanding of the geological controls on Earth’s climate. We also aim to assess some of the impacts of the extensive damming and other anthropogenic activities currently taking place in the region, as the environment attempts to rapidly adjust to the accelerating influence of humankind. Our research will provide some of the first data on how damming affects sediment and nutrient fluxes in the region, which will impact downstream communities and ecosystems in the decades to come.
Catchment time-series data can help us understand how variations in subsurface fluid flowpaths determine riverine chemistry and weathering rates. Together with the Josh West group at the University of Southern California and Mark Torres at Rice University, I am working on a long-term project studying the chemistry and hydrology of multiple catchments spanning the geomorphic transition between the high Andes and the Amazon floodplain. So far, we have demonstrated that catchment heterogeneity and variable tributary mixing need to be accounted for even in relatively small catchments (see publications listed below). On-going studies now focus on utilizing Si isotopes and Ge/Si ratios combined detailed hydrological data to investigate silicate weathering on a hillslope scale.
I am interested in the factors controlling weathering processes and carbon cycling in the critical zone, where the interaction between water, rocks, and living organisms takes place. Specifically, I focus on how the isotopic signatures of Ge, Si, and other elements can help us trace the various processes taking place in soils and rivers. Ongoing studies include an investigation of first order controls on Ge and Si isotope chemistry in world's rivers, a lab experiment weathering glacial river sediment, and a detailed study of soils and catchments in the tropical rainforest of Costa Rica.
The global biogeochemical cycles of various elements are inextricably linked to Earth’s climate and its variations over time. Sedimentary paleorecords can help reveal the intensity and the timing of geochemical perturbations that accompany past climate change. The meaningful interpretation of paleorecords requires a thorough understanding of global biogeochemical cycles, which include processes such as biological uptake, hydrothermal circulation, sediment diagenesis, and many others. In particular, I am currently working on quantifying the various germanium fluxes and their isotopic signatures which will aid the (re-)interpretation of Ge/Si and Ge isotope paleorecords, furthering our understanding of the linkage between tectonics, climate, and weathering.