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Laboratory of Geology from Lyon or the sudy of earth, planets and environment

The “Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon : Terre, Planètes, Environnement” (LGL-TPE) is an Earth Sciences research laboratory of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Claude Bernard University of Lyon (UCBL), the École Normale Supérieure of Lyon (ENSL) and the Jean Monnet University of Saint-Etienne (UJM). It brings together ca. 160 people spread over 3 geographic sites. Around a hundred people work on the campus of La Doua in Villeurbanne, around fifty on the campus Monod in Lyon and around one tenth on the campus Jean Monnet in Saint-Etienne.

Our main scientific objectives are to understand the formation and evolution of the Earth and planets as well as the emergence of life and its development. For this, we are carrying out research that covers a wide spectrum of themes, including the formation of the solar system, the formation of the Earth and planets and their evolution to their current state, the dynamics of the interior of planets and more specifically of the mantle and the Earth's core, the formation of mountain chains and the study of the lithosphere, exobiology, paleontology, the reconstruction of paleo-environments and paleo-climates on different geological time scales, and the study of contemporaneous analogues of the primitive biosphere and the characterization of this latter in the fossil record.

Our research is based on field studies, experimentation, analysis, and high-performance computing, at the crossroad of several disciplines such as physics, chemistry, or biology. The laboratory has an experimental park at the highest level in the fields of isotopic and molecular geochemistry, non-destructive analyzes, physics of extreme conditions, and microscopy. A fleet of drones allows to monitor geomorphology, coastal dynamics, or natural hazards. Our computer resources make it possible to digitally simulate the evolution of the planets or to build 3D models of the Earth's interior thanks to the massive processing of seismological data. The LGL-TPE manages one of the largest academic collections of paleontology in the world, with nearly 10 million samples. These collections constitute a research tool used by paleontologists around the world.

The scientific excellence of the laboratory is attested by the quality and the number of publications in high impact journals, by our success in the various national and European calls for proposals and by our participation in the laboratory of excellence "Lyon Institute of Origins ". Since 2015, the LGL-TPE has been the permanent laureate of 5 to 7 projects from the European Research Council (ERC). We are currently carrying 6 ERC projects on various scientific themes. The COSMOKEMS project focuses on the laboratory reconstruction of the conditions of the solar nebula and isotopic fractionations in the protoplanetary disc. Researchers of the IMPACT project explore the physical conditions during the giant impact that involved the protoplanet Earth and gave birth to the Moon. The CRUSLID project aims at understanding the nature and formation of the Martian and Lunar crusts to assess how they differ from the Earth's continental crust. The TRANSCALE project focuses on the contribution of so-called "Bayesian" probabilistic methods to the interpretation of seismological data to produce multi-scale models of the Earth interior. The researchers of the THEMISS project are interested in the modeling of the thermal evolution of icy objects in the solar system, with the objective of better locating the most primitive materials of the solar system and determining the characteristics of comets that can help to constrain its origin. The SILVER project aims to study the composition of silver coins from the ancient worlds (Greek and Roman) up to AD 250 using cutting-edge geochemical techniques. The questions asked are those of the origin of money and the link between economic development and the circulation of money.

This last project is a good illustration of the transdisciplinary of the research carried out at LGL-TPE. Indeed, an originality of the LGL-TPE is to develop interdisciplinary research by applying the analytical techniques of Earth Sciences to other disciplines. As other examples, our research on isotopic fractionation in cell biology is intended to have applications in medicine, while our analyzes of various materials by Raman spectroscopy have applications in tribology.

The LGL-TPE is attached to the “Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers” de Lyon (OSUL) with which some resources are mutualized. It also takes part in training actions through research internships and seminars, and by sharing its technical expertise. All our work is closely linked to teaching and we are constantly developing interactions between research and training. The LGL-TPE staff trains undergraduate and master's students and welcomes many doctoral and post-doctoral students, with the ambition to open our training courses to foreign students.

Finally, creating new and numerous synergies is one of our priorities and we are developing several applied projects in partnership with the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region and industrial partners.


Director of LGL-TPE