Organic Geochemistry Division

All members of the Geochemical Society with an interest in any of the diverse aspects of organic geochemistry may join its Organic Geochemistry Division (OGD) without additional charge. If you are already a GS member and want to add an OGD membership, log into the member website and select "Member Profile" from the menu on the right. In your profile, select Edit and scroll down to the bottom of page and select "Yes" under OGD Member. Then click the green Save button at the top of your profile. You can also send your request to the business office at

Organic geochemistry encompasses research as diverse as biogeochemistry, aspects of climate change studies, petroleum geochemistry, aspects of archaeology, and studies of extraterrestrial organic matter. Certainly, a potential liability pursuant to such diversity can be a lack of appreciation for and interaction among the constituent disciplines. Yet, on the other side of that same coin lays an incredible, albeit always 'potential', asset: the potential for large, more-thanincremental, advances which the diversity of organic geochemical approaches can collectively yield when applied to complex natural systems.

The bylaws of the OGD state that 'The purpose of the Division shall be to encourage and foster studies on the origin, nature, geochemical significance, and behavior during diagenesis and catagenesis of naturally occurring organic substances in the Earth, and also studies of extraterrestrial organic matter.'

To fulfill this purpose, the OGD engages in several activities, including:

  • Annual selection of the Alfred Treibs Medal winner: This medal is awarded for major achievements, over a period of years, in organic geochemistry. The bylaws describe such achievements as 'pioneering and innovative investigations, which have made highly significant contributions to the understanding of the origin and fate of organic materials in the geosphere and/or in extraterrestrial environments.'

  • Selection of the Best Paper of the Year Award, which is presented to the author(s) of the paper judged by the Best Paper Award Committee to be the most outstanding contribution published in the open literature in the previous twelve months.

  • Organization of organic-geochemistry-themed research symposia which are held annually as part of any of several earth science meetings, such as the Goldschmidt, GSA, ACS, or AAPG.

Unstated in the OGD bylaws, but implicit throughout, is the notion that the OGD should strive to facilitate excellence in its component disciplines, and interaction among those disciplines is a key to achieving that excellence. Consider the list of past recipients of the Alfred Treibs Medal:

  • Kenneth Peters (2009)
  • Martin Schoell (2008)
  • Walter Michaelis (2007)
  • Bernd Rolf Tatsuo Simoneit (2006)
  • Jaap Sinninghe Damste (2005)
  • Erik Galimov (2004)
  • Roger E. Summons (2003)
  • Archie Douglas (2002)
  • John Smith (2001)
  • John I. Hedges (2000)
  • John M. Hayes (1997)
  • Patrick Parker (1996)
  • Keith A. Kvenvolden (1995)
  • Isaac R. Kaplan (1993)
  • Jan W. deLeeuw (1991)
  • James R. Maxwell (1989)
  • T. C. Hoering (1987)
  • P. Albrecht (1985)
  • W. K. Seifert (1984)
  • D. H. Welte (1983)
  • J. M. Hunt (1982)
  • G. Eglinton (1981)
  • B. Tissot (1980)
  • G. T. Philippi (1979)

The rich, interdisciplinary, fecund careers of these scientists provide remarkable examples of what Organic Geochemistry, at its interdisciplinary best, can achieve. The OGD Executive Committee hopes to help the OGD further this unstated mission of stimulating substantive, even seminal interaction among its various branches - interaction that makes the most of our wonderful diversity.

—Excerpted from a letter written by Mark McCaffrey (OGD Chair, 2006-2007) and published in Geochemical News 127.