Dr Zheng Zhou


Research Overview

Zheng is a geochemist interested in applying isotope techniques to increase our understanding of the processes that control subsurface crustal fluid systems.

His work is intensively lab-based, using and developing methods of mass spectrometers to measure carbon, hydrogen and noble gas isotopes, such as He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe.

Isotopic and elemental fractionation of these isotopes enable models to be generated, so that migration and accumulation processes of oil, gas and groundwater in the underground environment can be described and quantified.

While the principles of the isotope tools are long established, there is huge potential for the application of them in energy, environmental and water resources management. For example, CO2 geological sequestration and enhanced oil recovery, fracking and shale gas exploration, and groundwater age dating.

Current Research

Zheng’s current research include:

  • CRIUS (Carbon Research into Underground Storage) – predicting CO2 EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery) and geological sequestration processes with artificial noble gas tracers.
  • Conventional and unconventional oil and gas – tracing basinal fluid dynamics with geochemical signatures preserved in hydrocarbon reservoirs.
  • Water resources management – tracing pollution and sea water intrusion in groundwater systems of the Pearl River Basin, China


Zheng is Year 4 Director of Studies for undergraduate programmes at the Lancaster Environment Centre

Zheng is on LEC PhD monitoring panel

Zheng is currently a member of:

  • The European Association of Geochemistry
  • The American Geophysical Union
  • The American Association of Petroleum Geologists


Zheng’s teaching includes three undergraduate modules:

  • LEC.281 Earth’s Natural Resources
  • LEC.381 Environmental Applications of Isotope Geochemistry
  • LEC.270 Carrock Fell Environmental Field Course

Activities in China

Zheng helps to develop and manage partnerships with Chinese research and teaching institutions and with businesses, collaborating in particular with experts in energy, environmental sciences and technology. He is also involved in organising events, conferences, workshops and visits to create networking opportunities and explore research possibilities. Key collaborators include colleagues based at Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

PhD Students

Miss Carmen Zwahlen

Mr. Lee Chambers

Mr. Yan Li

Formation mechanism of tight coal-derived-gas reservoirs with medium-low abundance in Xujiahe Formation, central Sichuan Basin, China
Qin, S., Li, F., Li, W., Zhou, Z., Zhou, G. 01/2018 In: Marine and Petroleum Geology. 89, 1, p. 144-154. 11 p.
Journal article

Geochemical characteristics of water-dissolved gases and implications on gas origin of Sinian to Cambrian reservoirs of Anyue gas field in Sichuan Basin, China
Qin, S., Li, F., Zhou, Z., Zhou, G. 01/2018 In: Marine and Petroleum Geology. 89, 1, p. 83-90. 8 p.
Journal article

Progress in the Application of Gas Geochemistry to Geothermal, Tectonic and Magmatic Studies
Wang, Y., Hilton, D.R., Zhou, Z., Zheng, G. 10/10/2017 In: Chemical Geology. 469, p. 1-3. 3 p.
Journal article

Rapid reactions between CO2, brine and silicate minerals during geological carbon storage: modelling based on a field CO2 injection experiment
Bickle, M., Kampman, N., Chapman, H., Ballentine, C., Dubacq, B., Galy, A., Sirikitputtisak, T., Warr, O., Wigley, M., Zhou, Z. 09/2017 In: Chemical Geology. 468, p. 17-31. 15 p.
Journal article

Estimating carbon dioxide residence time scales through noble gas and stable isotope diffusion profiles
Zwahlen, C.A., Kampman, N., Dennis, P., Zhou, Z., Holland, G. 23/08/2017 In: Geology. 45, 11, p. 995-998. 4 p.
Journal article

Drilling and sampling a natural CO2 reservoir: implications for fluid flow and CO2-fluid–rock reactions during CO2 migration through the overburden
Kampman, N., Bickle, M.J., Maskell, A., Chapman, H.J., Evans, J.P., Purser, G., Zhou, Z., Schaller, M.F., Gattacceca, J.C., Bertier, P., Chen, F., Turchyn, A.V., Assayag, N., Rochelle, C., Ballentine, C.J., Busch, A. 13/03/2014 In: Chemical Geology. 369, p. 51-82. 32 p.
Journal article

Scientific drilling and downhole fluid sampling of a natural CO2 reservoir, Green River, Utah
Kampman, N., Maskell, A., Bickle, M., Evans, J., Schaller, M., Purser, G., Zhou, Z., Gattacceca, J., Peitre, E., Rochelle, C., Ballentine, C., Busch, A. 5/11/2013 In: Scientific Drilling. 16, p. 33-43. 11 p.
Journal article

Identifying and quantifying natural CO2 sequestration processes over geological timescales: The Jackson Dome CO2 Deposit, USA
Zhou, Z., Ballentine, C.J., Schoell, M., Stevens, S.H. 1/06/2012 In: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 86, 1, p. 257-275. 19 p.
Journal article

Constraining the timing of microbial methane generation in an organic-rich shale using noble gases, Illinois Basin, USA
Schlegel, M.E., Zhou, Z., McIntosh, J.C., Ballentine, C.J., Person, M.A. 7/08/2011 In: Chemical Geology. 287, 1-2, p. 27-40. 14 p.
Journal article

Solubility trapping in formation water as dominant CO2 sink in natural gas fields
Gilfillan, S., Sherwood-Lollar, B., Holland, G., Blagburn, D., Stevens, S., Schoell, M., Cassidy, M., Ding, Z., Lacrampe-Couloume, G., Ballentine, C., Zhou, Z. 2/04/2009 In: Nature. 458, 7238, p. 614-618. 5 p.
Journal article

4He dating of groundwater associated with hydrocarbon reservoirs
Zhou, Z., Ballentine, C. 28/02/2006 In: Chemical Geology. 226, 3-4, p. 309-327. 19 p.
Journal article

Noble gas tracing of groundwater/coalbed methane interaction in the San Juan Basin, USA
Zhou, Z., Ballentine, C., Kipfer, R., Schoell, M., Thibodeaux, S. 1/12/2005 In: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 69, 23, p. 5413-5428. 16 p.
Journal article

Diagenetic cycling of arsenic in the sediments of eutrophic Baldeggersee, Switzerland
Fabian, D., Zhou, Z., Wehrli, B., Friedl, G. 09/2003 In: Applied Geochemistry. 18, 9, p. 1497-1506. 10 p.
Journal article

Establishing a mass balance for fluxes of arsenic and antimony in Baldeggersee, a eutrophic lake in central Switzerland
Fabian, D., Zhou, Z., Wehrli, B., Friedl, G. 2001 In: Water-rock interaction. Lisse : A. A. Balkema p. 1071-1073. 3 p.