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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Zunli Lu

Zunli Lu portrait

Associate Professor: Low-Temperature Geochemistry & Earth System Evolution

Earth and Environmental Sciences

310 Heroy Geology Laboratory


In the news

Scientists Link Marine Dead Zone to Carbon Cycle, Climate Change

(Oct. 19, 2018)

Associate Professor Zunli Lu says tropical Pacific played major role in absorbing Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide during last ice age

Scientists Rethink Co-Evolution of Marine Life, Oxygenated Oceans

(May 31, 2018)

Article by Ph.D. candidate Wanyi Lu breathes new life into study of planet's oxygen history

Scientists Examine Link Between Surface-Water Salinity, Climate Change in Central New York

(Feb. 22, 2018)

Ph.D. candidate Kristina Gutchess authors paper on impact of road salts on Tioughnioga River watershed

Reduced Oxygen During Ice Age Sheds Light on ‘Missing’ Carbon Dioxide

(March 31, 2016)

Tiny ocean dwellers witnessed climate cycles, report past conditions

Research Interests

My core interests and experiences center around how things (e.g. water, methane, carbon, other elements) move at regional to global scales; how these movements are intertwined with changes in tectonics, atmosphere, ocean, and climate; and how the biosphere evolved with these changes through Earth history. Since arriving at Syracuse University in 2011, I have been building a research program highlighting (1) global marine environmental changes through Earth history, (2) local and state-wide fresh water quality issues evolving with the adaptation to climate and energy challenges. Both directions fall into the broadly defined theme: co-evolution of life and planet.


EAR 111 Climate Change Past and Present
EAR 117 Oceanography
EAR 205 Water and the Environment
EAR 400/600 Chemical and Paleo Oceanography
EAR 419/619 Environmental Aqueous Geochemistry


Currently recruiting new graduate students

  • 2018- PhD Ruliang He
  • 2015-2020 PhD Wanyi Lu (Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence in Student Research, Woods Hole Postdoc Fellow)
  • 2016-2018 MS Shannon Garvin (US Geological Survey)
  • 2013-2018 PhD Kristina Gutchess (All-University Doctoral Prize, Postdoc at Yale University)
  • 2011-2016 PhD Xiaoli Zhou (All-University Doctoral Prize, Postdoc at Rutgers University)
  • 2011-2013 MS Sunshyne Hummel


Lab spaces include a general chemistry lab, a clean lab, and also instrument room.

A quadrupole ICP-MS, Bruker Aurora M90

Low Temperature Geochemistry Facilities


*student authors

  1. Lu, Z., *Lu, W., Rickaby, R.E.M., and Thomas, E., 2020, "Earth history of oxygen and the iprOxy", (Elements in Geochemical Tracers in Earth System Science). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. *He, R., *Lu, W., Junium., C.J., Ver Straeten, C.A., Lu, Z., 2020, "Paleo-redox context of the Mid-Devonian Appalachian Basin and its relevance to biocrises". Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. In press.
  3. *Lu, W., Rickaby, R.E.M., Hoogakker, B.A.A., Rathburn, A.E., Burkett, A.M., Dickson, A.J., Martínez-Méndez, G., Hillenbrand, C.D., Zhou, X., Thomas, E., and Lu, Z., 2020, "I/Ca in epifaunal benthic foraminifera: a semi-quantitative proxy for bottom water oxygen in a multi-proxy compilation for glacial ocean deoxygenation". Earth and Planetary Science Letters. In press.
  4. Liu, J., Luo, G., Lu, Z., *Lu, W., Qie, W., Zhang, F., Wang, X., Xie, S., 2020, "Intensified ocean deoxygenation during the end Devonian mass extinction". Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. In press.
  5. *Lu, W., Dickson, A.J., Thomas, E., Rickaby, R.E.M., Chapman, P., Lu, Z., 2020, "Refining the planktic foraminiferal I/Ca proxy: results from the Southeast Atlantic Ocean". Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. In press.
  6. Hoogakker, B.A.A., Lu, Z., Umling, N., Jones, L., *Zhou, X., Rickaby, R.E.M., Thunell, B., Cartapanis, O., Galbraith, E., 2018, "Glacial expansion of oxygen-depleted seawater in the eastern tropical Pacific". Nature, 562, 410–413.
  7. *Lu, W., Ridgwell, A., Thomas, E., Hardisty, D. S., Luo, G., Algeo, T. J., Saltzman, M. R., Gill, B. C., Shen, Y., Ling, H.-F., Edwards, C. T., Whalen, M. T., *Zhou, X., Gutchess, K. M., Jin, L., Rickaby, R. E. M., Jenkyns, H. C., Lyons, T. W., Lenton, T. M., Kump, L. R., and Lu, Z., 2018, "Late inception of a resiliently oxygenated upper ocean". Science, v. 361, no. 6398, p. 174.
  8. *Gutchess, K.M., Jin, L., Ledesma, J., Crossman, J., Kelleher, C., Lautz, L.K., Lu, Z., 2017, "Long-term climatic and anthropogenic impacts on stream water salinity in New York State: INCA simulations offer cautious optimism". Environmental Science & Technology, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b04385
  9. *Lu, W., Zhao, W., Balsam, W., Lu, H., Liu, P., Lu, Z., & Ji, J., 2017. "Iron mineralogy and speciation in clay-sized fractions of Chinese desert sediments". Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 122.
  10. Z. Levy, C. T. Mills, Z. Lu, M. B. Goldhaber, D. O. Rosenberry, D. M. Mushet, L. K. Lautz, *X. Zhou, and D. I. Siegel., 2018, "Using halogens (Cl, Br, I) to understand the hydrogeochemical evolution of drought-derived saline porewater beneath a prairie wetland". Chemical Geology 476, 191-207.
  11. Edwards, C., Fike, D.A., Saltzman, M.R., *Lu, W., and Lu, Z., 2018, "Evidence for local and global redox conditions at an Early Ordovician (Tremadocian) mass extinction". Earth and Planetary Science Letters 481, 125-135.
  12. *Lu, W., Wörndle, S., Halverson, G.P., *Zhou, X., Bekker, A., Rainbird, R.H., Hardisty, D.S., Lyons, T.W., and Lu, Z., 2017, "Iodine proxy evidence for increased ocean oxygenation during the Bitter Springs Anomaly". Geochemical Perspectives Letters
  13. *Zhou, X., Jenkyns, H. C., *Lu, W., Hardisty, D. S., Owens, J. D., Lyons, T. W., and Lu, Z., 2017, "Organically bound iodine as a bottom-water redox proxy: preliminary validation and application". Chemical Geology, 457, 95-106.
  14. Hardisty, D.S., Lu, Z., Bekker, A., Diamond, C.W., Gill, B.C., Jiang, G., Kah, L.C., Knoll, A.H., Loyd, S.J., Osburn, M.R., Planavsky, N.J., Wang, C., *Zhou, X., Lyons, T.W., 2017 Perspectives on Proterozoic surface ocean redox from iodine contents in ancient and recent carbonate. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 463, 159-170.
  15. Owens, J.D., Lyons, T.W., Hardisty, D.S., Lowery, C., Lu, Z., Lee, B., and Jenkyns H.C., 2017. "Patterns of local and global redox variability during the Cenomanian–Turonian Boundary Event (OAE 2) recorded in carbonates and shales from central Italy". Sedimentology. doi:10.1111/sed.12352.
  16. *Zhou, X., Thomas, E., Winguth, A., Ridgwell, A., Scher, H., Rickaby, REM, and Lu, Z., 2016. "Expanded oxygen minimum zones during the late Paleocene - early Eocene: hints from multi-proxy comparison and ocean modeling". Paleoceanography, 31, doi:10.1002/2016PA003020.
  17. *Gutchess, K.M., Jin, L., Lautz, L.K., Shaw, S.B., *Zhou, X., Lu, Z., 2016, "Chloride sources in urban and rural headwater catchments, central New York". Science of the Total Environment, 565, 462–472.
  18. Lu, Z., Hoogakker, B.A.A., Hillenbrand C.D., *Zhou, X., Thomas, E., *Gutchess, K., *Lu, W., Jones, L., Rickaby, R.E.M., 2016, "Oxygen depletion recorded in upper waters of the glacial Southern Ocean". Nature Communications, 7:11146 doi: 10.1038/ncomms11146.
  19. Christian, K.M., Lautz, L.K., Hoke, G.D., Siegel, D.I., Lu, Z., Kessler, J., 2015 "Methane occurrence is associated with sodium-rich valley waters in domestic wells overlying the Marcellus Shale in New York State". Water Resources Research, 52, 206–226, doi:10.1002/2015WR017805.
  20. Jin, L., Edmunds, M.W., Lu, Z., Ma, J., 2015 "Geochemistry of sediment moisture in the Badain Jaran desert: Insights into palaeo-environmental changes and water rock interaction". Applied Geochemistry, 63, 235-247.
  21. *Zhou, X., Jenkyns, H.C., Owens, J.D., Junium, C.K., Zheng, X., Sageman, B.B., Hardisty, D.S., Lyons, T.W., Ridgwell, A., and Lu, Z., 2015, "The I/Ca proxy and upper ocean oxygenation dynamics across the Cenomanian–Turonian OAE 2". Paleoceanography, 30, 510–526. doi:10.1002/2014PA002741. Cover story for that issue.
  22. *Zhou, X., Lu, Z., Rickaby, R.E.M., Domack, E., and Wellner, J., 2015, "Ikaite abundance controlled by porewater phosphorus level: implications for extensive glendonite deposits". Journal of Geology, Vol. 123, No. 3, pp. 269-281
  23. Lu, Z., *Hummel, S.T., Lautz, L.K., Hoke, G.D., *Zhou, X., Leone, J., and Siegel, D.I., 2015, "Iodine as a sensitive tracer for detecting influence of organic-rich shale in shallow groundwater". Applied Geochemistry, Vol. 60, pp. 29–36.
  24. *Zhou, X., Thomas, E., Rickaby, R.E.M., Winguth, A.M.E., and Lu, Z., 2014, "I/Ca evidence for upper ocean deoxygenation during the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM)". Paleoceanography, DOI: 10.1002/2014PA002702.
  25. Lautz, L.K., Hoke, G.D., Lu, Z., Siegel, D.I., Christian, K., Kessler, J.D., and Teale, N.G., 2014, "Using Discriminant Analysis to Determine Sources of Salinity in Shallow Groundwater Prior to Hydraulic Fracturing". Environmental Science & Technology, 48 (16), 9061-9069.
  26. Hardisty, D.S., Lu, Z., Planavsky, N.J., Bekker, A., Philippot, P., *Zhou, X. and Lyons T.W., 2014, "An iodine record of Paleoproterozoic surface ocean oxygenation". Geology, G35439. 1.
  27. Limburg, K.E., Walther, B.D., Lu, Z., Jackman, G., Mohan, J., Weber, P.K., Schmitt, A.K., 2015, "In search of the dead zone: use of otoliths for tracking fish exposure to hypoxia". Journal of Marine Systems, 141, 167-178.
  28. Lu, Z., 2013, Comment on "Iodine-129 and Iodine-127 Speciation in Groundwater at the Hanford Site, U.S.: Iodate Incorporation into Calcite". Environmental Science & Technology, 47 (22), pp.13203–13204. DOI: 10.1021/es404049s
  29. Jin, L., Whitehead, P.G., Futter, M.N. and Lu, Z., 2012, Modeling the impacts of climate change on flow and nitrate of the River Thames: Assessing potential adaption strategies. Hydrology Research, vol. 43, pp.902-916. doi: 10.2166/nh.2011.080
  30. Jin, L., Siegel, D.I., Lautz, L.K., and Lu, Z., 2012, Identifying streamflow sources during spring snowmelt using water chemistry and isotopic composition in semi-arid mountain streams. Journal of Hydrology, vol. 470–471, pp. 289–301
  31. Lu, Z., Rickaby, R.E.M., Kennedy H., Kennedy, P., Shaw S., Lennie, A., Pancost, R.D., Wellner, J., and Anderson, J.B., 2011, An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol.325-326, pp. 108-115, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2012.01.036
  32. Küpper, F. C., Feiters, M. C., Olofsson, B., Kaiho, T., Yanagida, S., Zimmermann, M. B., Carpenter, L. J., Luther, G. W., Lu, Z., Jonsson, M. and Kloo, L., 2011, Commemorating Two Centuries of Iodine Research: An Interdisciplinary Overview of Current Research. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 50: 11598–11620. doi: 10.1002/anie.201100028
  33. Lu, Z., Tomaru, H., and Fehn, U., 2011, Comparison of iodine dates from mud volcanoes and gas hydrate occurrences: relevance for the movement of fluids and methane in active margins. American Journal of Science. Vol. 311, (632–650), DOI 10.2475/07.2011.03
  34. Lu, Z., Jenkyns, H.C., and Rickaby, R.E.M., 2010, Iodine to calcium ratios in marine carbonate as a paleo-redox proxy during oceanic anoxic events. Geology, 38(12), 1107–1110.
  35. Lu, Z., Rickaby, R.E.M., Wellner, J., Georg, B., Charnley, N., Anderson, J.B. and Hensen C., 2010. Pore fluid modeling approach to identify recent meltwater signals on the west Antarctic Peninsula. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 11, Q06017, Doi 10.1029/2009gc002949.
  36. Scholz, F., Hensen, C., Lu, Z., and Fehn, U., 2010. Controls on the I-129/I ratio of deep-seated marine interstitial fluids: 'Old' organic versus fissiogenic 129-iodine. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 294(1-2), 27-36.
  37. Lu, Z., Fehn U., Zhao X., Kieser W.E. and Tomaru H., 2010, Comparison of three chemical extraction methods for I-129 determinations: Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B, 268, 952–955.
  38. Tomaru, H., Fehn, U., Lu, Z., Takeuchi, R., Inagaki, F., Imachi, H., Kotani, R., Matsumoto R., and Aoike, R., 2009, Dating of Dissolved Iodine in Pore Waters from the Gas Hydrate Occurrence Offshore Shimokita Peninsula, Japan: 129I Results from the D/V Chikyu Shakedown Cruise. Resource Geology, 59(4), 359-373.
  39. Tomaru, H., Lu, Z., Fehn, U., and Muramatsu Y., 2009, Origin of hydrocarbons in the Green Tuff region of Japan: 129I results from oil field brines and hot springs in the Akita and Niigata Basins: Chemical Geology, v. 264, p. 221-231.
  40. Lu, Z., Hensen, C., Fehn, U., and Wallmann, K., 2008, Halogen and 129I systematics in gas hydrate fields at the northern Cascadia margin (IODP Expedition 311): Insights from numerical modeling: Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 9, Q10006, doi:10.1029/2008GC002156.
  41. Lu, Z., Tomaru, H., and Fehn, U., 2008, Iodine ages of pore waters at Hydrate Ridge (ODP Leg 204), Cascadia Margin: implications for sources of methane in gas hydrates: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 267, p. 654-665.
  42. Lu, Z., Hensen, C., Fehn, U., and Wallmann, K., 2007, Old iodine in fluids venting along the Central American convergent margin: Geophysical Research Letters 34, L22604, doi: 22610.21029/22007GL031864.
  43. Lu, Z., Fehn, U., Tomaru, H., Elmore, D., and Ma, X., 2007, Reliability of 129I/I ratios produced from small sample masses: Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B, v. 259, p. 359-364.
  44. Tomaru, H., Lu, Z., Fehn, U., Muramatsu, Y., and Matsumoto, R., 2007 Age variation of pore water iodine in the eastern Nankai Trough, Japan: evidence for different methane sources in a large gas hydrate field: Geology, v.35, p.1015-1018.
  45. Tomaru, H., Lu, Z., Snyder, G.T., Fehn, U., Hiruta, A., and Matsumoto, R., 2007, Origin and age of pore waters in an actively venting gas hydrate field near Sado Island, Japan Sea: interpretation of halogen and 129I distributions: Chemical Geology, v. 236, p. 350-366.
  46. Tomaru, H., Fehn, U., Lu, Z.L., and Matsumoto, R., 2007, Halogen systematics in the Mallik 5L-38 gas hydrate production research well, Northwest Territories, Canada: Implications for the origin of gas hydrates under terrestrial permafrost conditions: Applied Geochemistry, v. 22, p. 656-675.
  47. Tomaru, H., Ohsawa, S., Amita, K., Lu, Z.L., and Fehn, U., 2007, Influence of subduction zone settings on the origin of forearc fluids: Halogen concentrations and I-129/I ratios in waters from Kyushu, Japan: Applied Geochemistry, v. 22, p. 676-691.
  48. Fehn, U., Lu, Z., and Tomaru, H., 2006, Data Report: 129I/I ratios and halogen concentrations in pore water of Hydrate Ridge and their relevance for the origin of gas hydrates: A progress report: Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program, Scientific Results, v. 204.
  49. Lu, Z., Ling, H.F., Zhou, F., Jiang, S., Chen, X., and Zhou, H., 2005, Variation of the Fe/Mn ratio of ferromanganese crusts from the Central North Pacific: implication for paleoclimate changes: Progress in Natural Science, v. 15, p. 530-537.
  50. Ling, H.F., Jiang, S.Y., Frank, M., Zhou, H.Y., Zhou, F., Lu, Z.L., Chen, X.M., Jiang, Y.H., and Ge, C.D., 2005, Differing controls over the Cenozoic Pb and Nd isotope evolution of deepwater in the central North Pacific Ocean: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 232, p. 345-361.