Joel D. Blum

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Joel D. Blum


Office Location(s): 4009 C.C. Little
Phone: 734.615.3242
Fax: 734.763.4690
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  • Affiliation(s)
    • John D MacArthur Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Fields of Study
    • Geochemical controls on ecosystems, trace element and isotope geochemistry
  • About

    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 studiesof 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 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.
    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 mercury (Hg) isotope variation in the environment and of biotic and abiotic mercury isotope fractionation during redox transformation
    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 Blum's laboratory facilities are newly renovated and house clean-rooms for chemical separations and trace mercury analysis, as well as an ICP-OES and IC for major element analysis. A mass spectrometry facility is shared between the research groups of Professors Blum and Mukasa and houses a Nu-instruments multi-collector ICP-MS for trace element and isotopic ratio measurements and thermal ionization mass spectrometers for both positive and negative ion TIMS. Blum's group also utilizes the departmental laboratories that house electron microprobes, SEMs, two high mass resolution magnetic sector ICP-MS and an Ar-Ar geochronology facility.

    U-M collaborations

    Professor Blum and his research group are involved in a wide range of collaborative projects at U-M with members of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department as well as Professor Kling of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Professor Hayes in the Department of Environmental Engineering, Professor Keeler in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences and Professor Zak in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

    Outside collaborations

    Professor Blum and his research group are also involved in collaborative projects outside of the U-M. These include numerous collaborations at the Hubbard Brook LTER, the Bartlett Experimental Forest, the Arctic Lakes LTER, and the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium. Collaborative laboratory research projects are underway at Rutgers University (Prof. Tamar Barkay) and Hebrew University (Prof. Yigal Erel).

  • Education
    • Ph.D. Geochemistry, California Institute of Technology, 1990
  • Research Areas of Interest
    • Geochemical controls on ecosystems, trace element and isotope geochemistry