Team Members


Connecting interdisciplinary research from around the world


UC Riverside




Georgia Tech

Arizona State University

Oregon Health & Science University

J. Craig Venter Institute


Principal Investigator and Center Director

Timothy Lyons

Timothy Lyons


  • Research Interests

    Much of my current work explores the evolving ocean and atmosphere and their cause-and-effect relationships with the origin and evolution of life. Biogeochemical processes that dominate modern and ancient carbonate platforms and oxygen-deficient marine basins are at the heart of this research. Primary methodologies track the signals of microbially mediated cycling of carbon, sulfur, and metals as expressed in their signature isotopic compositions preserved in ancient sedimentary rocks. With my students and colleagues, I am calibrating these proxy methods using modern sediments from the Black Sea, Cariaco Basin in Venezuela, Florida Bay, cold seeps in the Gulf of Mexico, and other settings. We have applied these proxies to deconstruct the paleoenvironmental contexts of Paleozoic black shale deposition and Precambrian biospheric evolution. Particularly exciting are patterns of early atmospheric oxygenation expressed in trace sulfate trapped within carbonate rocks (carbonate-associated sulfate) and in redox-sensitive metals within shales. Related work features marine oxygen isotope records preserved in phosphatic conodonts, iron paleoredox proxies, sulfur geomicrobiology, pathways of metal enrichment, and organic biomarker approaches.

  • References

    Algeo, T.J. and Lyons, T.W., 2006, Mo–total organic carbon covariation in modern anoxic marine environments: Implications for analysis of paleoredox and paleohydrographic conditions: Paleoceanography, v. 21.

    Anbar, A. D., Duan, Y., Lyons, T. W., Arnold, G. L., Kendall, B., Creaser, R. A., Kaufman, A. J., Gordon, G. W., Scott, C., Garvin, J. and Buick, R., 2007, A whiff of oxygen before the Great Oxidation Event?: Science, v. 317, p. 1903-1906.

    Asael, D., Tissot, F.L.H., Reinhard, C.T., Rouxel, O., Dauphas, N., Lyons, T.W., Ponzevera, E., Liorzou, C., and Chéron, S., 2013, Coupled molybdenum, iron and uranium stable isotopes as oceanic paleoredox proxies during the Paleoproterozoic Shunga Event: Chemical Geology, v. 362, p. 193-210.

    Kaufman, A. J., Johnston, D. T., Farquhar, J., Masterson, A. L., Lyons, T. W., Bates, S., Anbar, A. D., Arnold, G. L., Garvin, J. and Buick, R., 2007, Late Archean biospheric oxygenation and atmospheric evolution: Science, v. 317, p. 1900-1903.

    Kelly, A. E., Love, G. D., Lyons, T. W., Bowden, S. A., McGoldrick, P. and Summons, R.E., Reassessing Biomarker Evidence for a Mid-Proterozoic Purple Ocean: Nature Geosciences, submitted. 

    Kendall, B., Reinhard, C. T., Lyons, T., Kaufman, A. J., Poulton, S. W. and Anbar, A. D., 2010, Pervasive oxygenation along late Archaean ocean margins: Nature Geoscience, v. 3, p. 647-652.

    Konhauser, K. O., Lalonde, S. V., Planavsky, N. J., Pecoits, E., Lyons, T. W., Mojzsis, S. J., Rouxel, O. J., Barley, M. E., Rosiere, C., Fralick, P. W., Kump, L. R. and Bekker, A., 2011, Aerobic bacterial pyrite oxidation and acid rock drainage during the Great Oxidation Event: Nature, v. 478, p. 369.

    Lyons, T.W., Anbar, A.D., Severmann, S., Scott, C. and Gill, B., 2009, Tracking euxinia in the ancient ocean: a multiproxy perspective and Proterozoic case study: Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, v. 37:, p. 507-534.

    Lyons, T. W., Reinhard, C. T. and Planavsky, N. J., 2014, The rise of oxygen in Earth's early ocean and atmosphere: Nature, v. 506, p. 307-315.

    Lyons, T.W. and Severmann, S., 2006, A critical look at iron paleoredox proxies: New insights from modern euxinic marine basins: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 70, p. 5698-5722.

    Ono, S., Whitehill, A.R. and Lyons, J.R., 2013, Contribution of isotopologue self-shielding to sulfur mass-independent fractionation during sulfur dioxide photolysis: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 118, p. 2444-2454.

    Partin, C. A., Bekker, A., Planavsky, N. J., Scott, C. T., Gill, B. C., Li, C., Podkovyrov, V., Maslov, A., Konhauser, K. O., Lalonde, S. V., Love, G. D., Poulton, S. W. and Lyons, T. W., 2013, Large-scale fluctuations in Precambrian atmospheric and oceanic oxygen levels from the record of U in shales: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 369, p. 284-293.

    Payne, J.L., McLain, C.R., Boyer, A.G., Brown, J.H., Finnegan, S., Kowalewski, M., Krause Jr., R.A., Lyons, S.K., McShea, D.W., Novack-Gottshall, P.M., Smith, F.A., Spaeth, P., Stempien, J.A. and Wang, S.C., 2011, The evolutionary consequences of oxygenic photosynthesis: a body size perspective: Photosynthesis Research, v. 107, p. 37-57.

    Planavsky, N. J., Bekker, A., Hofmann, A., Owens, J. D. and Lyons, T. W., 2012, Sulfur record of rising and falling marine oxygen and sulfate levels during the Lomagundi event: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, v. 109, p. 18300-18305.

    Planavsky, N. J., McGoldrick, P., Scott, C. T., Li, C., Reinhard, C. T., Kelly, A. E., Chu, X. L., Bekker, A., Love, G. D. and Lyons, T. W., 2011, Widespread iron-rich conditions in the mid-Proterozoic ocean: Nature, v. 477, p. 448-U495.

    Raiswell, R., Reinhard, C.T., Derkowski, A., Owens, J., Bottrell, S.H., Anbar, A.D., and Lyons, T.W., 2011, Formation of syngenetic and early diagenetic iron minerals in the late Archean Mt. McRae Shale, Hamersley Basin, Australia: New insights on the patterns, controls and paleoenvironmental implications of authigenic mineral formation: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 75, p. 1072-1087.

    Reinhard, C.T., Lalonde, S. and Lyons, T.W., 2013a, Oxidative sulfide dissolution on the early Earth: Chemical Geology, v. 362, p. 44-55.

    Reinhard, C.T., Planavsky, N.J. and Lyons, T.W., 2013b, Long-term sedimentary recycling of rare sulphur isotope anomalies: Nature.

    Reinhard, C.T., Planavsky, N.J., Robbins, L.J., Partin, C.A., Gill, B.C., Lalonde, S.V., Bekker, A., Konhauser, K.O. and Lyons, T.W., 2013c, Proterozoic ocean redox and biogeochemical stasis: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, v. 110, p. 5357-5362.

    Reinhard, C. T., Raiswell, R., Scott, C., Anbar, A. D. and Lyons, T. W., 2009, A Late Archean Sulfidic Sea Stimulated by Early Oxidative Weathering of the Continents: Science, v. 326, p. 713-716.

    Sahoo, S.K., Planavsky, N.J., Kendall, B., Wang, X.Q., Shi, X.Y., Scott, C., Anbar, A.D., Lyons, T.W. and Jiang, G.Q., 2012, Ocean oxygenation in the wake of the Marinoan glaciation: Nature, v. 489, p. 546-549.

    Scott, C., Bekker, A., Reinhard, C.T., Schnetger, B., Krapež, B., Rumble III, D. and Lyons, T.W., 2011, Late Archean euxinic conditions before the rise of atmospheric oxygen: Geology, v. 39, p. 119-122.

    Scott, C., Lyons, T. W., Bekker, A., Shen, Y., Poulton, S. W., Chu, X. and Anbar, A. D., 2008, Tracing the stepwise oxygenation of the Proterozoic ocean: Nature, v. 452, p. 456-U455.

    Scott, C., Planavsky, N. J., Dupont, C. L., Kendall, B., Gill, B. C., Robbins, L. J., Husband, K. F., Arnold, G. L., Wing, B. A., Poulton, S. W., Bekker, A., Anbar, A. D.,

    Konhauser, K. O. and Lyons, T. W., 2013, Bioavailability of zinc in marine systems through time: Nature Geosci, v. 6, p. 125-128.

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Institutional Principal Investigators  

Noah Planavsky Yale University
Christopher Reinhard Georgia Institute of Technology


Ariel Anbar Arizona State University
Andrey Bekker University of California, Riverside
Ruth Blake Yale University
Mary Droser University of California, Riverside
Christopher Dupont J. Craig Venter Institute
David Evans Yale University
Jennifer Glass Georgia Institute of Technology
Jun Korenaga Yale University
Gordon Love University of California, Riverside
Yuanzhi Tang Georgia Institute of Technology
Bradley Tebo Oregon Health and Science University


Steve Bates University of California, Riverside
Ed Bolton Yale University
Maryjo Brounce University of California, Riverside
Marilyn Fogel University of California, Riverside
William Gilhooly Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Daniel Gregory  University of Toronto
Dalton Hardisty Michigan State University
Kimberly Lau University of Wyoming
Stephen Kane University of California, Riverside
James Kasting Pennsylvania State University
Sandra Kirtland Turner University of California, Riverside
Cin-Ty Lee Rice University
Jeremy Owens Florida State University
Andy Ridgwell University of California, Riverside
Steve Romaniello Arizona State University
Mark H. Thiemens University of California, San Diego

International Collaborators

Donald Canfield University of Southern Denmark
Emmanuelle Javaux Université de Liége, Belgium
Niels Peter Revsbech Aarhus University, Denmark
Hari Tsikos Rhodes University

Postdoctoral Fellows

Devon Cole Georgia Institute of Technology
Paul Dalba University of California, Riverside
Marzia Miletto Oregon Health and Science University
Kingsley Odigie University of California, Riverside
Stephanie Olson University of Chicago
Juan Rosas Bonilla Yale University
Eddie Schwieterman University of California, Riverside
Nadia Szeinbaum Georgia Institute of Technology
Xiangli Wang Yale University
Dragos Zaharescu Georgia Institute of Technology
Junpeng Zhang University of California, Riverside

Graduate Students

Alma Ceja University of California, Riverside
Scott Evans University of California, Riverside
Maria Figueroa University of California, Riverside
Terry Isson Yale University
Aleisha Johnson Arizona State University 
Zhexing Li University of California, Riverside
Zijian Li  Georgia Institute of Technology
Xolane Mhlanga Rhodes University
Colby Ostberg University of California, Riverside
Christopher Tino University of California, Riverside
Chenyi Tu University of California, Riverside
Pengxiao Xu Georgia Institute of Technology
Shiliang Zhao Georgia Institute of Technology
Michelle Zill University of California, Riverside
Alex Zumberge University of California, Riverside
Camilla Liu Georgia Institute of Technology

Communication & Education

Sarah Simpson University of California, Riverside

Laboratory Support

Steve Bates University of California, Riverside
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