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Zunli Lu

Zunli Lu

Zunli Lu

Thonis Family Professor: Low-Temperature Geochemistry and Earth System Evolution


Earth and Environmental Sciences
310 Heroy Geology Laboratory
Office: 315.443.0281


Social/Academic Links

Courses Taught

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

What's Cooking? Culinary Creations with a Scientific Twist

(May 11, 2023)

Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Zunli Lu combines his passion for research and cooking. The results are tasty, science-inspired dishes.

Uncovering the Secrets Behind Earth’s First Major Mass Extinction

(Nov. 1, 2021)

A team of researchers have published a new study in Nature Geoscience exploring the cause of the Late Ordovician mass extinction.

EES Professor Zunli Lu Awarded NSF Grant to Study the Causes of Mass Extinctions

(Oct. 12, 2021)

Lu is part of an interdisciplinary team of scientists who will investigate how animals responded to environmental change millions of years ago.

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.

Current and Past Students

Currently recruiting new graduate students

  • 2021- Ph.D. Ashley Prow
  • 2018- Ph.D. Ruliang He
  • 2015-2020 Ph.D. Wanyi Lu (Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence in Student Research, Woods Hole Postdoc Fellow)
  • 2016-2018 M.S. Shannon Garvin (US Geological Survey)
  • 2013-2018 Ph.D. Kristina Gutchess (All-University Doctoral Prize, Postdoc at Yale University)
  • 2011-2016 Ph.D. Xiaoli Zhou (All-University Doctoral Prize, Postdoc at Rutgers University)
  • 2011-2013 M.S. 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

Alexandre Pohl, †Zunli Lu, *Wanyi Lu, Richard G. Stockey, Maya Elrick, André Desrochers, Yanan Shen, *Ruliang He, Seth Finnegan, Andy Ridgwell, 2021, “On the mechanism of the latest Ordovician ocean anoxia during climate cooling”. Nature Geoscience, 14 (11), 868-873

†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.

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.

*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.

†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.

†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.

†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

†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.

†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.