University of California, Riverside

Faculty Profile System

Gordon Love

Gordon Love

Associate Professor

Department of Earth Sciences
Geology 1456
(951) 827-3181

Research Areas

  • Biogeochemistry

The primary focus of my research is molecular organic geochemistry, particularly applied to the ancient sedimentary record, but also to microbial cultures, recent sediments and carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. My interests involve retrieving and interpreting ancient molecular and isotopic biosignatures preserved in the geological record and formulating strategies for discriminating abiogenic from biogenic mechanisms of organic matter formation with application to the kerogens found in Earth's oldest sediments.
My research uses a combination of state-of-the-art analytical techniques for analysis of recalcitrant fossil biochemicals found in the geosphere known as lipid biomarkers e.g. gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), gas chromatography-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-IRMS) and catalytic hydropyrolysis (HyPy).I am also interested in applying spectroscopic techniques for assessing the bulk chemical composition of sedimentary organic matter (solid-state 13C NMR, Raman) and using stable isotope analyses ( 13C and 15 N) for probing carbon and nitrogen cycling in the ancient biosphere.

Recent Projects:
1. Using molecular lipid biomarkers and stable isotopes ( 13C, 15N) to record environmental and biotic change through the end-Permian mass extinction (with Roger Summons, MIT),
2. Analyzing the molecular biomarker record for the Proterozoic (pre-543 Ma) to record changes in ocean chemistry and the progressive oxygenation of the biosphere, including constraining the first appearance of basal animals in the geological record (with Roger Summons, MIT; Jochen Brocks, ANU, Australia)
3. Compiling molecular and stable carbon isotopic patterns for assessing the origins (biogenic/abiogenic?) of highly aromatic and overmature organic matter from the Archean, such as that found within 3.5 Ga Strelley Pool cherts (with Craig Marshall, University of Sydney, Australia)
4. Structural and isotopic characterization of molecular building blocks of the insoluble organic matter in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites (with Mark Sephton, Imperial, UK)
5. Development of catalytic hydropyrolysis as an analytical technique for petroleum geochemistry applications. This approach can generate pristine biomarker signals from macromolecular fractions of heavily biodegraded oils, tar mats, pyrobitumens as well as for sediment cores/cuttings contaminated with oil based drilling muds and lubricants.
These bound biomarker signals can be used for source correlation and maturity assessment where conventional biomarker analysis is severely compromised (with Colin Snape, University of Nottingham, UK).


  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow at MIT, 2003-2006
  • NERC Research Fellow, University of Newcastle (UK), 1997-2003
  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Strathclyde (UK), 1995



More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Department of Earth Sciences
Geology Building

Tel: (951) 827-3434
Fax: (951) 827-4324