Zachary D. Sharp

Distinguished Professor

Photo: Zachary D. Sharp

Director, Center for Stable Isotopes (CSI)

Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1987
Northrop Hall Rm. 337

Related Website/s

Research Area/s:

Climate/Atmospheric Sciences,  Geochemistry/Petrology/Mineralogy,  Planetary Sciences,  Sedimentology/Stratigraphy/Paleoclimate/Paleontology

Research and Academic Interests:

Stable isotope geochemistry, with application to paleoclimate reconstruction, metamorphic & igneous petrology, atmospheric science and meteoritics.

Present work includes: triple oxygen isotope analysis of waters and sediments, chlorine, oxygen and hydrogen isotope analyses of extraterrestrial materials (meteorites, Moon and Mars), volcanic gases, and Earth's early exosphere and animal metabolism.

I have recently installed one of the first tunable infrared laser direct absorption spectroscopy (TILDAS, Aerodyne Corp.) units to measure the three isotopes of O with a 20 ppm precision.

Present Students and Postdocs:

Payal Banerjee Payal Banerjee (Ph.D.) Co advisor, Viorel Atudorei. Payal is using our new TILDAS system to study the triple oxygen isotope systematics of carbonates from the Permian-Triassic boundary. She is conducting extensive fieldwork in the western United States and working on samples from China (w/ Jonathan Payne, Stanford).
Susmita Garai (Ph.D.) Susmita GaraiCo-advisor, Peter Olson. Susmita is studying the origin of the Earth by pebble accretion. Her work combines theoretical modelling of terrestrial planet growth by pebble accretion and experiments of high temperature interaction between a hydrogen atmosphere and pebbles falling into a growing Earth hot atmosphere.
Cloe KnutsonCloe Knutson(Master’s) Cloe started her Master’s thesis in Fall of 2023. She is thinking to work on the triple oxygen isotope composition of modern plants and animals with the ultimate goal of better understanding the triple isotope system of fossil animals.
Catherine PeshekCatherine Peshek(Ph.D.) Catt is studying the formation of soil carbonates and travertines using high precision triple oxygen isotope analysis with TILDAS. She is looking at modern natural samples as well as conducting laboratory experiments concerned with kinetics of isotope fractionation during carbonate formation.
Anthony GarganoAnthony Gargano(Postdoctoral Fellow). Tony is working with Sharp and Seth Newsome on physiology of animals using the triple oxygen isotope composition of body water. He is measuring natural samples and conducting modelling calculations to better understand how to interpret oxygen isotope ratios preserved in modern and ultimately fossil animals. He is also working with Sharp and Chip Shearer (Institute of Meteoritics) on lunar (Apollo return) samples using halogen ratios and Cl isotopes.

Recent Publications:

TextbookPRINCIPLES OF STABLE ISOTOPE GEOCHEMISTRY (Prentice Hall), 2005. A general overview of stable isotope geochemistry developed as a textbook for an upper level course and as a reference volume for workers in the field. 344 pg. Click here for a free download.
  • Sharp, Z.D. and Olson, P.L. (2022) Multi-element constraints on the sources of volatiles to Earth. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 333, 124-135.

  • McGunnigle, J.P., Cano, E.J., Sharp, Z.D., Muehlenbachs, K., Cole, D., Hardman, M.F., Stachel, T. and Pearson, D.G. (2022) Triple oxygen isotope evidence for a hot Archean ocean. Geology 10.1130/G50230.1, 5 pages.

  • Olson, P.L. and Sharp, Z.D. (2022) Primordial Helium-3 Exchange Between Earth's Core and Mantle. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 23, e2021GC009985.

  • Perdue, N., Sharp, Z., Nelson, D., Wehr, R. and Dyroff, C. (2022) A rapid high-precision analytical method for triple oxygen isotope analysis of CO2 gas using tunable infrared laser direct absorption spectroscopy. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 36, e9391.

  • Cano, E.J., Sharp, Z.D. and Shearer, C.K. (2020) Distinct oxygen isotope compositions of the Earth and Moon. Nature Geoscience 13, 270-274.

  • Gargano, A., Sharp, Z.D., Shearer, C.K., Simon, J.I., Halliday, A. and Buckley, W. (2020) The Cl isotope composition and halogen contents of Apollo-return samples. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117, 23418-23425.

  • Wostbrock, J.A.G. and Sharp, Z.D. (2021) Triple oxygen isotopes in the silica-water and carbonate-water system, in: Bindeman, I., Pack, A. (Eds.), Triple Oxygen Isotope Geochemistry. Mineralogical Society of America, pp. 367-400.