Felix Leo Arens


Felix Arens

Technische Universität Berlin      

Straße des 17. Juni 135
10623 Berlin

Room ER127
Tel.: 030 314-79486


I am a M.Sc. geoscientist by training, graduated 2017 at the Freie Universität Berlin.

My research fields are sedimentology and geochemistry of desert soils, in respect to habitability and terrestrial analog model for Mars.


Project: Geochemical survey on hyperarid soils in the Atacama Desert, Chile -

Indications on environmental shifts and habitability

Within my doctoral project I am investigating the traces of water migration and microbial activity in the extreme environments of the hyperarid Atacama Desert with the help of isotope geochemistry.

My PhD project will focus on one specific depositional system within the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert to investigate the interplay between water migration, fluvial and aeolian sediment and salt input in modern soils, to gain indications for their habitability. Additionally, I will study the dry lake sediment in the lowest point of the deposition system to go back into time to investigate environmental shifts.

To achieve these goals, I will investigate soil profiles of endmember soil types located in the Yungay Valley with a multi-methods approach, including environmental monitoring, sedimentological and geochemical methods. This will include:

  • temperature and moisture recording in air and soil
  • drone and satellite reconnaissance and standard geological field-mapping
  • grain size/shape distribution
  • porosity and permeability analysis
  • mineralogical analysis (XRD, thin section)
  • elemental analysis (XRF, elemental analyzer)
  • wet chemistry (ion chromatography)
  • stable isotope analysis of N, C, S & O of nitrate, carbonate, sulfates and organic matter
  • depositional age dating with cosmogenic nuclides (10Be/9Be)



Arens, F.L., Airo, A., Feige, J., Sager, C., Wiechert, U., Schulze-Makuch, D., 2021. Geochemical proxies for water-soil interactions in the hyperarid Atacama Desert, Chile. Catena, 206 (105531); doi:10.1016/j.catena.2021.105531

C. Sager, A. Airo, F. L. Arens, D. Schulze-Makuch, New types of sand wedge polygons in the salt cemented soils in the hyper-arid Atacama Desert (January 2021). Geomorphology, Volume 373

C. Sager, A. Airo, F. L. Arens, C.Rabethge, D. Schulze-Makuch, New types of boulder accumulations in the hyper-arid Atacama Desert (February 2020). Geomorphology, Volume 350

D. Schulze-Makuch, D. Wagner, S. P. Kounaves, K. Mangelsdorf, K. G. Devine, J.-P. d Vera, P. Schmitt-Kopplin, H.-P. Grossart, V. Parro, M. Kaupenjohann, A. Galy, B. Schneider, A. Airo, J. Frösler, A. F. Davila, F. L. Arens, L. Cáceres, F. S.Cornejo, D. Carrizo, L. Dartnell, J. DiRuggiero, M. Flury, L. Ganzert, M. O. Gessner, P. Grathwohl, L. Guan, J. Heinz, M. Hess, F. Keppler, D. Maus, C. P. McKay, R. U. Meckenstock, W. Montgomery, E. A. Oberlin, A. J. Probst, J. S. Sáenz, T. Sattler, J. Schirmack, M. A. Sephton, M. Schloter, J. Uhl, B. Valenzuela, G. Vestergaard, L. Wörmer, P. Zamorano; Transitory microbial habitat in the hyperarid Atacama DesertPNAS 2018, 115 (11) 2670-2675; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1714341115

Conference papers:

F. L. Arens, A. Airo, C. Sager, D. Schulze-Makuch; Habitability of hyperarid Atacama Desert soil and implication on Martian habitats; AbGradE Symposium 23-24/09/2018, Berlin, Germany

C. Sager, A. Airo, F. Arens, M. Baque, J. de Vera, D. Schulze-Makuch, Polygonated soils in the hyper-arid Atacama Desert and their relevance for patterned ground on Mars(January 2018). Conference: 3rd Astrobiology Graduates in Europe (AbGradE) symposium

F. L. Arens, L. Jentzsch, A. Airo; Macroscopic morphology of microbialites as biosignature; AbGradE Symposium 25-27/09/2016, Athens, Greece