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Joel D. Blum

John D MacArthur Professor, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Office Information:

4009 C.C. Little Building

phone: 734.615.3242

Climate Change; Environmental Biogeochemistry; Geochemistry; Geomicrobiology; Geomorphology; Hydrogeology; Oceanography; Paleoceanography


Ph.D. Geochemistry, California Institute of Technology, 1990


Professor Blum is Co-Editor-in-Chief of Elementa, Science of the Anthropocene a new journal publishing original research reporting on new knowledge of the Earth’s physical, chemical, and biological systems; interactions between human and natural systems; and steps that can be taken to mitigate and adapt to global change, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene will report on fundamental advancements in research organized initially into six knowledge domains, embracing the concept that basic knowledge can foster sustainable solutions for society. Elementa is published on an open-access, public-good basis—available freely and immediately to the world. Website: See the remix on YouTube:

Fields of Interest
Toxic Metals in the Environment, Global Climate Change, Water and Soil Quality, Sustainable Forestry.

Research Interests
Professor Blum's research group focuses on studies of geochemical controls on the structure and function of ecosystems, and on the application of trace element and isotope geochemistry across the Earth and Environmental Sciences. They utilize state-of-the art methods of chemical analysis and stable and radiogenic isotope measurement to address a wide variety of research problems from forest biogeochemistry and hydrogeochemistry to studies of fisheries and marine chemistry. Some student projects are fieldwork oriented and utilize relatively simple laboratory methods, whereas other projects involve the development of new laboratory procedures and methodologies.

Lab Research Group
Research Scientists: Dr. Jamie Gleason, Dr. Jason Demers
Research Associate: Mr. Marcus Johnson
Research Fellows: Martin Tsui, Laura Sherman
Graduate Students: Patrick Donovan, Sae Yun Kwon
Undergraduate Students:  Jane Cooper, Nathan Kerns, Kaitlin Ma, Rachel Ross

Ongoing Projects

  1. Investigations of mercury (Hg) isotope variation in the environment and of biotic and abiotic mercury isotope fractionation during redox transformations.
  2. Field and laboratory studies of the sources, transport and fate of mercury (Hg) in atmospheric deposition, rivers, lakes, soils, forests and aquifers.
  3. Investigations of the effect of acid rain and forest succession on the forest biogeochemical cycling of calcium and other nutrients. This includes a whole-watershed manipulation experiment at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (New England) and other studies in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
  4. Field and laboratory studies of factors controlling silicate and carbonate mineral dissolution rates, with emphasis on the affects of micro-organisms and on the global carbon cycle.
  5. Tracing of hydrologic flowpaths using chemical and isotopic (e.g., Li, B, Sr, Pb) Hg tracers.
  6. Investigations of foodweb structure of songbirds and of fish using isotopic methods.
  7. Studies of fluid flow and hydrothermal activity in orogenic mountain belts.
  8. Studies of Hg and other volatile elements in primitive meteorites and ore deposits.

  • Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Field(s) of Study
  • Mercury Isotope Systematics
  • Mercury Biogeochemistry
  • Soil and Surface Water Geochemistry
  • Forest Biogeochemistry
  • Arctic Studies

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