From macro-scale tectonics to molecular fossils and atomic isotopes
$1,145,250 of extramural fundings to LSU, leading a total budget of $1,829,105.
NSFGEO-NERC Award # 2217529 (09/01/2022 – 08/31/2025): Collaborative Research: NSFGEO-NERC: Solving the conundrum of the Miocene South Asian Monsoon: $652,927.00 (to LSU), total budget $1,336,782: Zhuang (lead PI)
NSF Award # 2022282 (08/01/2020 – 07/31/2023): Using organic biomarker paleohypsometry to reconstruct the punctuated uplift history of the Northern Tibetan Plateau: $284,603.00: Zhuang (Sole PI)
Tectonics: Himalayas-Tibetan Plateau
Paleoclimate: Asian monsoons and Westerlies
Paleoceanography: upwelling in Western Arabian Sea
Paleoecology: C4-grassland expansion
Boundary events: Eocene-Oligocene Transition
My current research focuses on the biogeochemistry processes and the applications. I aim at understanding the production and preservation of organic molecules and the isotopic signatures in biomarkers and use this knowledge to study multi-sphere interactions.
My research career began with a research project on the northern Tibetan Plateau that includes the intermountain Qaidam Basin, the foreland basin of Hexi Corridor, the Qilian Shan fold-thrust-belt, and the left-lateral strike-slip Altyn Tagh fault. To understand the growth history and the climatic impact of the northern Tibetan Plateau, I used an integrated approach (basin analysis, U-Th/He thermochronology, and carbonate stable oxygen and carbon isotopes).
My interests in biogeochemistry trace back to my first postdoctoral training at Yale. I have developed an approach that used the leaf wax n-alkane hydrogen isotopes and microbial tetraethers to constrain the paleo-elevation of orogenic belts and applied this approach to quantify the paleo-elevation of the Qaidam Basin and the paleo-relief between the Qilian Shan and the Qaidam Basin and Hexi Corridor (see details in my publications: Zhuang et al., 2014 EPSL and Zhuang et al., 2019 GRL).
We have used the sea surface temperature (SST) proxy based on isoprenoid GDGT to constrain the upwelling history in the western Arabian Sea by studying core samples at the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Sites 722B and 730A.
My group has used the leaf wax n-alkane hydrogen and carbon isotopes, biomarkers, along with the climatic modeling to understand the evolution of Asian summer monsoons and the interactions with the Westerlies on Myr- and Kyr-scales, and the Eocene-Oligocene Transition in Asia and North America (see Hou et al., 2020 GSA Bulletin; Wu et al., 2021 EPSL; Hou et al., 2022 GSA Bulletin for details).