Joel Blum’s research focuses on heavy metals in the environment and on the application of stable and radiogenic isotopes across earth sciences, environmental chemistry and ecology. He has studied research topics in atmospheric chemistry, hydrogeochemistry, chemical oceanography, aquatic and terrestrial foodwebs, animal migrations, forest nutrient cycling, meteoritics, ore deposits and archeology. Blum was born in Cleveland Ohio and graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 1981 with degrees in geological science and political science. He completed an M.S. in geological science in 1982 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and worked for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources from 1982 until 1985. Blum completed his Ph.D in geochemistry at the California Institute of Technology in 1990, and was appointed an Assistant Professor at Dartmouth College the same year. In 1999 Blum moved to the University of Michigan where he holds the MacArthur Chair and is the Keeler Distinguished Professor. Blum was awarded the Patterson Award in Environmental Geochemistry in 2013 by the Geochemical Society.

Research Interests

Joel Blum's research has contributed to knowledge of the geochemistry and environmental chemistry of metals, nutrients and climate change. Most recently he has focused on understanding the biogeochemistry of the elements mercury, lead and arsenic in atmospheric, aquatic and terrestrial systems utilizing new methods developed in his laboratory. Most notably, Blum and co-workers developed a technique for high precision measurement of mercury stable isotope ratios using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. In addition to mass dependent isotope fractionation, they documented several unprecedented patterns of mass independent isotope fractionation caused by the magnetic isotope effect and the nuclear volume effect. His research group experimentally calibrated the isotope fractionation due to a wide range of biotic and abiotic oxidation-reduction reactions and used these isotopic patterns to explore mercury chemistry at the isotopic level. This has led to advances in understanding of mercury biogeochemistry in the atmosphere, oceans, lakes, rivers, forests, soils, rocks, ore deposits and meteorites.

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Primary Section

Section 15: Geology

Secondary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology