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Dr. Kimberly Lau

Assistant Professor

Dr. Kimberly Lau

Office Phone: 307-223-2102
P.O. Box 3006 Laramie, Wyoming 82071-3006
Office Room No: ESB 3012

Research Website


PhD, Geological Sciences, Stanford University, 2017
BS, Geology & Geophysics, Yale University, 2009

Selected Publications

Please see my website for a full list and PDFs.

Zhang, F., Romaniello, S.J., Algeo, T.J., Lau, K.V., Clapham, M.E., Richoz, S., Hermann, A.D., Smith,H., Horacek, M., Anbar, A.D. Multiple episodes of extensive marine anoxia linked to global warming and continental weathering following the latest Permian mass extinction. Science Advances 4:e1602921.

Silva-Tamayo, J.C., Lau, K.V., Jost, A.B., Payne, J.L., Wignall, P.B., Newton, R.J., Eisenhauer, A., DePaolo, D.J., Brown, S., Maher, K., Lehrmann, D.J., Altiner, D., Yu, M., Richoz, S., & Paytan, A. (2018) Global Perturbation of the Marine Calcium Isotope Cycle During the Permian-Triassic Transition. GSA Bulletin 130, 1323-1338.

Lau, K.V., Maher, K., Brown, S., Altiner, D., DePaolo, D.J., Eisenhauer, A., Jost, A.B., Kelley, B.M., Lehrmann, D.J., Paytan, A., Silva-Tamayo, J.C., Yu, M., & Payne, J.L. (2017) The influence of diagenesis, mineralogy, and seawater changes on calcium isotope variations in Lower-Middle Triassic carbonate rocks. Chemical Geology 471, 13-37.

Jost, A.B., Bachan, A., van de Schootbrugge, B., Lau, K.V., Weaver, K.L., Maher, K., & Payne, J.L. (2017) Uranium isotope evidence for an expansion of marine anoxia during the end-Triassic extinction. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 18, 3093-3108.

Bachan, A., Lau, K.V., Saltzman, M.R., Thomas, E., Kump, L.R & Payne, J.L. (2017) A model for the decrease in amplitude of carbon isotope excursions throughout the Phanerozoic. American Journal of Science 317(6), 641-676.

Kelley, B.M., Lehrmann, D.J., Yu, M., Minzoni, M., Enos, P., Li, X.W., Lau, K.V., and Payne, J.L. (2017) The Late Permian to Late Triassic Great Bank of Guizhou: An isolated carbonate platform in the Nanpanjiang Basin of Guizhou Province, China. AAPG Bulletin 101, 553-562.

Lau, K.V., Macdonald, F.A., Maher, K., & Payne, J.L. (2017) Uranium isotope evidence for temporary ocean oxygenation in the aftermath of the Sturtian Snowball Earth. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 458, 282-292.

Caves, J.K., Jost, A.B., Lau, K.V., & Maher, K. (2016) Cenozoic carbon cycle imbalances and a variable weathering feedback. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 450, 152-163.

Lau, K.V., Maher, K., Altiner, D., Kelley, B.M., Lehrmann, D.J., Silva-Tamayo, J.C., Weaver, K.L., Yu, M., & Payne, J.L. (2016) Marine anoxia and delayed Earth system recovery after the end-Permian extinction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113, 2360-2365.

Research Statement

My research is focused on understanding the causes and consequences of ocean anoxia and oxygenation in Earth’s history. Anoxic (or low-oxygen) conditions can be caused by large increases in atmospheric pCO2, which drives continental weathering and delivery of nutrients (such as phosphate) to the oceans—a perturbation that stimulates primary productivity and oxygen demand. The redox conditions of the oceans are in turn closely linked to many biogeochemical cycles, from carbon to trace metals. Oxygenation and de-oxygenation help to define the habitability of ancient oceans and thus impact patterns of animal evolution and extinction. I implement a combination of methods, including analyses of geochemical proxies in marine sedimentary rocks and numerical modeling. In particular, isotopic proxies, such as uranium, offer a new perspective on past biogeochemical cycling and the potential to quantitatively reconstruct the redox conditions of oceans present many millions of years ago.

Past research includes investigating marine anoxia and carbonate chemistry in the aftermath of the end-Permian mass extinction (ca. 252 to 237 million years ago), as well as using the uranium isotope paleoredox proxy to track the rise of oxygen in the oceans in the Sturtian Period (ca. 663 to 635 million years ago), during the rise of animals. Among my current research topics are: (1) characterizing uranium isotopes in organic-rich shales by using the Miocene Monterey Formation as a case study; (2) constructing a diagenetic model of uranium biogeochemistry in marine sediments to determine the sensitivity of uranium cycling and isotopic fractionation to local depositional conditions; (3) implementing simple models to determine how the silicate weathering feedback changed as plants evolved; and (4) applying calcium isotopes to evaluate how diagenesis affects the geochemistry of carbonate sedimentary rocks.

Teaching Statement

My courses are centered on building a deeper understanding of how geoscientists integrate a variety of sedimentological and geochemical data to investigate the long-term evolution of the Earth system. A combination of field, lab, and active research experiences is the best way to develop critical thinking skills and to engage undergraduates from a variety of backgrounds in the scientific process. These skills will also benefit students interested in a breadth of careers, including academic, public policy, consulting, or industry positions.

I enjoy mentoring undergraduate students in research projects and am recruiting graduate students and postdocs to work with me. Please get in touch through email if you are interested!

Contact Us

Department of Geology and Geophysics

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071-2000

Phone: 307-766-3386

Fax: 307-766-6679


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