Thai Phan

Thai Phan
Assistant Professor, Metal Isotope Geochemistry
Location: EIT 5023B
Phone: 519-888-4567, ext. 37673


Thai Phan’s research interests mainly focus on understanding water-rock interactions and other geological and environmental processes associated with water cycles in both natural and engineered natural systems. Scientific investigations apply integrated approaches including laboratory experiments, field surveys, and geochemical modeling, particularly utilizing radiogenic (e.g., Sr, Sm-Nd) and stable metal (e.g., Li, B, Ba, U) isotopes to study environmental problems associated with geological carbon sequestration and natural resource development such as hydrocarbon extraction and mining. He is also interested in investigating how abiotic and microbial processes fractionate the isotopic composition of metals, allowing metal isotopes to be reliably used as environmental tracers.

Research Interests

  • Bioinformatics and Systematics; Mining Biological Data
  • Contamination & Remediation: Water, Soil, Air
  • Carbon Dioxide Capt

Scholarly Research

Dr. Phan uses geochemistry and metal isotopes to - distinguish water-rock interactions and fluid mixing in groundwater aquifer and deep hydrocarbon reservoirs; - trace the sources of salinity and contaminants in surface water; - track origin and evolution of brine co-produced with oil and gas from hydraulically fractured shale reservoirs and CO2 injected dolomite formations; - study the depositional environment and diagenetic history of shale and origin and diagenetic alterations of carbonate rocks; - learn more about metal cycles in lake water and sediment which can serve as modern analogs of paleoenvironments. Dr. Phan’s PhD research investigated abiotic and microbial controls on U cycle in mining impacted lake sediment and water. His recent studies cover these topics: Environmental impacts of disposed drill cuttings of oil and gas wells from releasing of trace elements under surficial conditions. Using multiple isotope systems (Li, Sr, B, Ba) to identify water-rock interaction processes during hydraulic fracturing, and origin and evolution of wastewater co-produced with natural gas from hydraulically fractured Marcellus Shale. Redox conditions, sediment sources and ages, and diagenesis of Marcellus Shale. Developing effective monitoring methods for detecting CO2 and formation fluid leakage and water-rock interactions in geologic carbon storage and in shale systems using naturally occurring isotopes. Currently utilized isotope systems include Li, B, radiogenic Sr, and stable isotopes of C and O.


  • 2012, Doctorate Environmental and Life Sciences, Trent University, Canada
  • 2007, Master of Engineering Environmental and Engineering Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand
  • 2004, Bachelor's Chemical Engineering, University of Technology, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Professional Associations

  • Geological Society of America
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Chemical Society


  • EARTH 221 - Introductory Geochemistry
    • Taught in 2020, 2021
  • EARTH 358 - Earth System Science
    • Taught in 2019, 2020
  • EARTH 458L - Field Methods in Hydrogeology
    • Taught in 2018, 2019

* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Phan, T.T., Paukert Vankeuren, A.N., Hakala, J.A. 2018. Roles of water–rock interactions in the geochemical evolution of Marcellus Shale produced waters. International Journal of Coal Geology. Publication Link
  • Phan, T.T., Gardiner, J.B., Capo, R.C., Stewart, B.W., 2018. Geochemical and multi-isotopic (Li, Sr, Nd, U) perspectives of sediment sources, depositional conditions, and diagenesis of Marcellus Shale, Appalachian Basin. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. Publication Link
  • Pfister, S., Capo, R.C., Stewart, B.W., Macpherson, G.L., Phan, T.T., Gardiner, J.B., Diehl, J.R., Lopano, C., Hakala, J.A., 2017. Geochemical and lithium isotope tracking of dissolved solid sources in Permian Basin carbonate reservoir and overlying aquifer waters at an enhanced oil recovery site, northwest Texas, USA Applied Geochemistry. Publication Link
  • Phan, T.T., Capo, R.C., Stewart, B.W., Macpherson, G.L., Rowan, E.L, Hammack, R. W., 2016. Factors controlling Li concentration and isotopic composition in formation waters and host rocks of Marcellus Shale, Appalachian Basin. Chemical Geology. Publication Link
  • Phan, T.T., Capo, R.C., Stewart, B.W., Graney, J.R., Johnson, J.D., Sharma, S., and Toro, J., 2015. Trace metal distribution and mobility in drill cuttings and produced waters from Marcellus Shale gas extraction: Uranium, arsenic, barium. Applied Geochemistry. Publication Link
  • Macpherson, G.L., Capo, R.C., Stewart, B.W., Phan, T.T., Schroeder, K., and Hammack, R.W., 2014. Temperature-dependent Li isotope ratios in Appalachian Plateau and Gulf Coast Sedimentary Basin saline water. Geofluids, v. 14, p. 419-429. Publication Link
  • Wall, A.J., Capo, R.C., Stewart, B.W., Phan, T.T., Jain, J.C., Hakala, J.A., and Guthrie, G.D., 2013. High throughput method for Sr extraction from variable matrix waters and 87Sr/86Sr isotope analysis by MC-ICP-MS. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 28, no. 8, p. 1338-1344. Publication Link