Department of Chemistry Biochemistry


Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 1996

  Office: PSF-630  
  Phone: (480) 965-0767  
  Fax: (480) 965-2747

 Dr. ARIEL ANBAR's Lab or Group Website

Research and Teaching Interests

Researchers in my group use chemical concepts and approaches to study geological, chemical and biological processes that shape the Earth’s surface environment and how they have changed through time. Study of these processes teaches us about the habitability of the Earth, the history of the environment and life, the effects of human activities on the environment, and the prospects for life beyond Earth.

Our efforts center on the development and application of novel analytical techniques, particularly using mass spectrometry. Recently, we have been among the pioneers in using multiple-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) to precisely measure mass-dependent variations in the isotopic compositions of transition metals, particularly iron and molybdenum. Work by us and others documents that variations of 0.01 – 0.1 %/amu, once undetectable, are actually ubiquitous. Such measurements in natural samples, informed by laboratory experiments and theoretical studies, provide insights into the environmental chemistry of metals and the metal-centered interactions between organisms and their surroundings. Applied to the geologic record, such “metal stable isotope” studies provide information about metal biogeochemical cycles on the ancient Earth, environmental changes that perturbed these cycles, and biological activity in the distant past. A notable recent example of this research is our use of molybdenum isotopes to study changes in the oxygen content of the oceans through time(Arnold et al., 2004).

We plan to continue to explore the biogeochemistry of metals in the middle of the periodic table, using isotopic and other methods. We are especially interested in “metallomic” research that relates the distribution and isotopic composition of metals in nature to the demand for these metals by various metalloenzymes. New state-of-the-art analytical facilities,particularly in the W. M. Keck Foundation Laboratory for Environmental Biogeochemistry, make ASU an exceptional setting to pursue this research.

Selected Publications

"Effects of biological soil crusts on soil elemental concentrations: implications for biogeochemistry and as traceable biosignatures of ancient life on land," H. Beraldi-Campesi, H. E. Hartnett, A. D. Anbar, G. W. Gordon and F. Garcia-Pichel, Geobiology 7 348-359 (2009)

"When do black shales tell molybdenum isotope tales?," G. W. Gordon, T. W. Lyons, G. L. Arnold, J. E. Roe, B. B. Sageman and A. D. Anbar , Geology 37 535-538 (2009)

"Tracking euxinia in the ancient ocean: a multiproxy perspective and Proterozoic case study," T. W. Lyons, A. D. Anbar, S. Severmann, C. Scott and B. C. Gill, Ann. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 37 507-534 (2009)

"Elemental and iron isotopic composition of aerosols collected in a parking structure," B. J. Majestic, A. D. Anbar and P. Herckes, Sci. Total Env. 407 5104-5109 (2009)

"Isotopic evidence for an aerobic nitrogen cycle in the latest Archean," J. Garvin, R. Buick, A. D. Anbar, G. L. Arnold and A. J. Kaufman, Science 323 1045-1048 (2009)

"Re-Os, Mo, and Fe isotope systematics of black shales from the Proterozoic Velkerri and Wollogorang Formations, McArthur Basin, Northern Australia," B. Kendall, R. A. Creaser, G. W. Gordon and A. D. Anbar, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 73 2534-2558 (2009)

"A contemporary microbially maintained subglacial ferrous ‘ocean’," J. A. Mikucki, A. Pearson, D. T. Johnston, A. V. Turchyn, J. Farquhar, D. P. Schrag, A. D. Anbar, J. C. Priscu and P. A. Lee , Science 324 397-400 (2009)

"Biosignatures in ancient rocks: a summary of discussions at a field workshop on biosignatures in ancient rocks," H. Ohmoto, B. Runnegar, L. R. Kump, M. L. Fogel, B. Kamber, A. D. Anbar, P. L. Knauth, D. R. Lowe, D. Y. Sumner and Y. Watanabe, Astrobiology 8 883-907 (2009)

"Large molybdenum isotope variations in a continental rift setting," U. Ryb, A. Matthews, Y. Erel, G. Gordon and A. D. Anbar, Geology 37 463-466 (2009)

"Did nature also choose arsenic? ," F. Wolfe-Simon, P. C. W. Davies and A. D. Anbar, Internat. J. Astrobiology doi:10.1017/S1473550408004394. (2009)

"Measuring natural variations of iron isotopic composition in atmospheric aerosols for use in source-apportionment studies," B. Majestic, A. D. Anbar and P. Herckes, Env. Sci. Tech. 43 4327-4333 (2009)

"Coevolution of marine metal availability and photoautotrophic nitrogen assimilation," J. B. Glass, F. Wolfe-Simon and A. D. Anbar, Geobiology DOI 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2009.00190.x. (2009)

"Elements and evolution," A.D. Anbar, Science 332 1481-1483 (2008)

"Redox renaissance," A. D. Anbar and G. W. Gordon, Geology 36 271-272 (2008)

"Tracing the stepwise oxygenation of the Proterozoic ocean," C. Scott, T. W. Lyons, A. Bekker, Y. Shen, S. W. Poulton, X. Chu and A. D. Anbar, Nature 452 456-459 (2008)

"Solution structure of molybdic acid from Raman spectroscopy and DFT analysis," O. F. Overinde, C. L. Weeks, A. D. Anbar and T. G. Spiro, Inorg. Chim. Acta 361 1000-1007 (2008)

"Natural fractionation of 238U/235U," S. Weyer, A. D. Anbar, A. Gerdes, G. W. Gordon, T. J. Algeo and E. A. Boyle, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 72 345 – 359 (2008)

" Modern iron isotope perspective on the benthic iron shuttle and the redox evolution of ancient oceans," S. Severmann, T. W. Lyons, A. D. Anbar, J. McManus and G. Gordon, Geology 36 487-490 (2008)

"Experimental investigation of the effects of temperature and ionic strength on Mo isotope fractionation during adsorption to manganese oxides," L. E. Wasylenki, G. W. Gordon, C. Weeks, T. Spiro and A. D. Anbar , Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 72 5997-6005 (2008)

"DFT investigation of vibrational spectra of Fe(H2O)63+ and Fe(H2O)62+," A. Jarzecki, A.D. Anbar and T. Spiro, J. Phys. Chem. A 108 2726-2732 (2004)

"Molybdenum isotope evidence of widespread anoxia in mid-Proterozoic oceans," G.L. Arnold, A.D. Anbar, J. Barling and T.W. Lyons, Science 304 87-90 (2004)

"Proterozoic ocean chemistry and evolution: A bioinorganic bridge?," A.D. Anbar and A.H. Knoll, Science 297 1137-1142 (2002)

"Precise determination of mass-dependent variations in the isotopic composition of Mo using MC-ICP-MS.," A.D. Anbar, K.A. Knab and J. Barling , Anal. Chem. 73 1425-1431 (2001)