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Erin Black


  • Assistant Professor

PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

221 Hutchison
(585) 275-3440
Fax: (585) 244-5689

Office Hours: By appointment


Research Overview

The global ocean is the largest reservoir of accessible carbon on human timescales. To elucidate the oceanic controls on modern climate change and make predictions for the future, we need to better understand the mechanisms for past and current changes in marine carbon cycling. My group’s major area of research focuses on improving our constraints on the marine carbon cycle and, specifically, on the biological carbon pump. We use isotope geochemistry and uranium-thorium series radionuclides to track carbon as it enters, moves within, and exits the world’s oceans. Because the availability of other elements, such as iron and nitrogen, can also impact the productivity of the phytoplankton communities at the base of the biological carbon pump, the study of marine carbon is often intertwined with the cycling of other elements. We use similar isotope proxies to study the controls on carbon export in the Arctic, what impacts the vertical transport of iron globally, and the timescales of manganese scavenging in the Pacific.

We are in the process of constructing a comprehensive radioisotope facility at UR with alpha, beta, and gamma counting capabilities. The analysis of natural uranium-thorium decay series isotopes will be the primary focus of this new laboratory; however, we also welcome collaborations requiring short-lived, cosmogenic isotopes (e.g. beryllium-7) and anthropogenic radionuclides (e.g. cesium and plutonium isotopes).

Selected Publications

  • Black, E.E., Kienast, S.S., Lemaitre, N., Lam, P.J., Anderson, R.F., Planquette, H., Planchon, F., and Buesseler, K.O., 2020, Ironing out Fe residence time in the dynamic upper ocean, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 34: 9, e2020GB006592, doi: 1029/2020GB006592
  • Tesán Onrubia, J.A., Petrova, M.V., Puigcorbé, V., Black, E.E., Valk, O., Dufour, A., Hamelin, B., Buesseler, K.O., Masqué, P., Le Moigne, F.A.C., Sonke, J.E., Rutgers van der Loeff, M., and Heimbürger-Boavida, L-.E., 2020, Mercury export flux in the Arctic Ocean estimated from 234Th:238U disequilibrium, ACS Earth and Space Chemistry, 4: 795-801, doi: 10.1021/acsearthspacechem.0c00055
  • Buesseler, K.O., Boyd, P.W., Black, E.E., and Siegel, D.A., 2020, Assessing ocean biological pump efficiencies - metrics that matter for carbon sequestration, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(18): 9679-9687, doi: 1073/pnas.1918114117
  • Black, E.E., Lam, P.J., Lee, J.-M., and Buesseler, K.O., 2019, Insights from the 238U–234Th Method into the Coupling of Biological Export and the Cycling of Cadmium, Cobalt, and Manganese in the Southeast Pacific Ocean, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 33: 15-36, doi:10.1029/2018GB005985
  • Pavia, F., Anderson, R.F., Black, E.E., Kipp, L.E., Vivancos, S., Fleisher, M.Q., Charette, M.A., Sanial, V., Moore, W.S., Hult, M., Lu, Y., Cheng, H., Zhang, P., and Edwards, L.R., 2019, Timescales of hydrothermal scavenging in the South Pacific Ocean from 234Th, 230Th, and 228Th, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 506: 146–156, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2018.10.038
  • Hayes, C.T., Black, E.E., Anderson, R.F., Baskaran, M., Buesseler, K.O., Charette, M.A., Cheng, H., Cochran, J.K., Edwards, L. R., Fitzgerald, P., Lam, P.J., Lu, Y., Morris, S.O., Ohnemus, D.O., Pavia, F.J., Stewart, G., and Tang, Y., 2018, Flux of particulate elements in the North Atlantic Ocean constrained by multiple radionuclides, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 32: 1738-1758, doi:10.1029/2018GB005994
  • Rutgers van der Loeff, M., Kipp, L., Charette, M., Black, E., Stimac, I., Charkin, A., Bauch, D., Valk, O., Karcher, M., Krumpen, T., Casacuberta, N., Smethie, W., and Rember, R., 2018, Radium isotopes across the Arctic Ocean show time scales of water mass ventilation and increasing shelf inputs, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123: 4853-4873, doi:10.1029/2018JC013888
  • Black, E.E., Buesseler, K.O, Pike, S.M., and Lam, P.J., 2018, 234Th as a tracer of particulate export and remineralization in the Southeastern Tropical Pacific, Marine Chemistry, 201: 35–50, doi: 10.1016/j.marchem.2017.06.009
  • Black, E.E. and Buesseler, K.O., 2014, Spatial Variability and the Fate of Cesium in Coastal Sediments near Fukushima, Japan, Biogeosciences, 11: 5123–5137, doi:10.5194/bg-11-5123-2014
  • Black, E., Renshaw, C.E., Magilligan, F.J., Kaste, J., Dade, W.B. and Landis, J., 2010, Determining Lateral Migration Rates in Meandering Rivers Using Fallout Radionuclides, Geomorphology, 123(3-4): 364–369, doi:1016/j.geomorph.2010.08.004