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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Tao Wen

Tao Wen portrait

Assistant Professor: Hydrogeochemistry, Environmental Data Science, & Noble Gas Geochemistry

Earth and Environmental Sciences

319B Heroy Geology Laboratory


Research and Teaching Interests

I am a hydrogeochemist with additional expertise in data sciences driven by a research interest at the interface between humankind and water cycle. I use field-based and geochemical laboratory-based approaches (e.g., noble gases, stable isotopes, and water chemistry) to shed light on the environmental implications of human activities on water resources. I also applies data mining algorithms to explore the spatiotemporal patterns of water quantity and quality in the coupled natural and human system. I am particularly interested in water sustainability and the connection between energy/agriculture/urbanization and water quality.

Upon starting at SU, I plan to develop a variety of new courses on data mining in geoscience in addition to teaching some of existing courses (e.g., Hydrogeology). These courses will prepare SU students to address environmental challenges in this coupled human and natural Earth system.


  • Zheng, G., Liu, M., Wen, T., Wang, H., Yao, H., Brantley, S.L. and Li, Z., Targeted Source Detection for Environmental Data. Under review.
  • Wen, T., Woda, J., Marcon, V., Niu, X., Li, Z. and Brantley, S.L., 2019. Exploring How to Use Groundwater Chemistry to Identify Migration of Methane near Shale Gas Wells in the Appalachian Basin. Environmental Science & Technology.
  • Liu, R., Heinemann, N., Liu, J., Zhu, W., Wilkinson, M., Xie, Y., Wang, Z., Wen, T., Hao, F., Haszeldine, S.R., 2019. CO2 Sequestration by Mineral Trapping in Natural Analogues in the Yinggehai Basin, South China Sea. Marine and Petroleum Geology.
  • Wen, T., Agarwal, A., Xue, L., Chen, A., Herman, A., Li, Z. and Brantley, S.L., 2019. Assessing Changes in Groundwater Chemistry in Landscapes with More than 100 Years of Oil and Gas Development. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.
  • Woda, J., Wen, T., Oakley, D., Yoxtheimer, D., Engelder, T., Castro, M.C. and Brantley, S.L., 2018. Detecting and Explaining Why Aquifers Occasionally Become Degraded Near Hydraulically Fractured Shale Gas Wells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(49), pp.12349-12358.
  • Larson, T.E., Nicot, J.P., Mickler, P., Castro, M.C., Darvari, R., Wen, T. and Hall, C.M., 2018. Monitoring Stray Natural Gas in Groundwater with Dissolved Nitrogen. An Example from Parker County, Texas. Water Resources Research, 54(9), pp.6024-6041.
  • Wen, T., Niu, X., Gonzales, M., Zheng, G., Li, Z. and Brantley, S.L., 2018. Big Groundwater Data Sets Reveal Possible Rare Contamination Amid Otherwise Improved Water Quality for Some Analytes in a Region of Marcellus Shale Development. Environmental Science & Technology, 52(12), pp.7149-7159.
  • Niu, X., Wen, T., Li, Z. and Brantley, S.L., 2018. One Step toward Developing Knowledge from Numbers in Regional Analysis of Water Quality. Environmental Science & Technology, 52(6), pp.3342-3343.
  • Wen, T., Pinti, D.L., Castro, M.C., López-Hernández, A., Hall, C.M., Shouakar-Stash, O. and Sandoval-Medina, F., 2018. A Noble Gas and 87Sr/86Sr Study in Fluids of the Los Azufres Geothermal Field, Mexico – Assessing Impact of Exploitation and Constraining Heat Sources. Chemical Geology, 483, pp.426-441.
  • Brantley, S.L., Vidic, R.D., Brasier, K., Yoxtheimer, D., Pollak, J., Wilderman, C. and Wen, T., 2018. Engaging over data on fracking and water quality. Science, 359(6374), pp.395-397.
  • Wen, T., Castro, M.C., Nicot, J.P., Hall, C.M., Pinti, D.L., Mickler, P., Darvari, R. and Larson, T., 2017. Characterizing the noble gas isotopic composition of the Barnett Shale and Strawn group and constraining the source of stray gas in the Trinity Aquifer, north-central Texas. Environmental Science & Technology, 51(11), pp.6533-6541.
  • Wen, T., Castro, M.C., Nicot, J.P., Hall, C.M., Larson, T., Mickler, P. and Darvari, R., 2016. Methane Sources and Migration Mechanisms in Shallow Groundwaters in Parker and Hood Counties, Texas - A Heavy Noble Gas Analysis. Environmental Science & Technology, 50(21), pp.12012-12021.
  • Wen, T., Castro, M.C., Ellis, B.R., Hall, C.M. and Lohmann, K.C., 2015. Assessing compositional variability and migration of natural gas in the Antrim Shale in the Michigan Basin using noble gas geochemistry. Chemical Geology, 417, pp.356-370.
  • Wen, T., Castro, M.C., Hall, C.M., Pinti, D.L. and Lohmann, K.C., 2016. Constraining groundwater flow in the Glacial Drift and Saginaw aquifers in the Michigan Basin through helium concentrations and isotopic ratios. Geofluids, 16(1), pp.3-25.
  • Boucher, C., Pinti, D.L., Roy, M., Castro, M.C., Cloutier, V., Blanchette, D., Larocque, M., Hall, C.M., Wen, T. and Sano, Y., 2015. Groundwater age investigation of eskers in the Amos region, Quebec, Canada. Journal of Hydrology, 524, pp.1-14.
  • Nie, Y., Liu, X., Wen, T., Sun, L. and Emslie, S.D., 2014. Environmental implication of nitrogen isotopic composition in ornithogenic sediments from the Ross Sea region, East Antarctica: Δ15N as a new proxy for avian influence. Chemical Geology, 363, pp.91-100.


I am currently recruiting M.S. and Ph.D. students to join my research group at Syracuse University, located in Syracuse, New York. My group uses noble gas, hydrogeochemistry, and data science tools to study water cycle in the coupled natural and human systems over a broad range of temporal and spatial scales. Field geology, state-of-the-art geochemical analyses, as well as emerging data mining (big data) tools will be blended in our work. Students in my group will have the opportunities to incorporate one or more of these elements in their projects.

Interested students can check this departmental website ( for the admission requirements of Syracuse University and Department of Earth Sciences.

I strongly encourage prospective students to reach out to me by email to learn more about opportunities in my research group at Syracuse University. I will be at 2019 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco in December, during which I am happy to meet prospective students in person.