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Chris Ballentine


  • Fellow
  • Earth 4D: Subsurface Science & Exploration




Chris Ballentine is fascinated by gases – whether that means developing our knowledge of how the Earth accreted the elements that form today’s atmosphere, understanding the processes that control the gas composition of Earth’s silicate mantle, or identifying how gases and related fluids are generated and migrate within the continental crust.

He also studies how these are all related through their interaction over geological and planetary length and time scales. Ballentine has pioneered the use of a particular set of tracers, noble gas isotopes. These provide an invaluable insight into the temporal and physical environment in which gases and fluids chemically react or contribute to biologically mediated processes.

A common theme that crosses several PhD and postdoctoral projects in the Ballentine lab is the development of the principles that allows us to trace the origin of deep continental gases and to determine the average residence time of ancient fluids in the continental crust. This approach has application in nuclear waste and CO2 sequestration, hydrocarbon resource discovery, groundwater security and has led to the identification of some of the oldest fluids yet found on Earth. The latter provide an analogue for the discovery of future helium and hydrogen resources essential, in turn, for medical and high tech industries and clean energy.


  • Eni Award – Energy Frontiers, 2016
  • Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, 2013
  • European Research Council (ERC) senior investigator award, 2011
  • Fellow of the Geological Society of London, 2009
  • Geol. Soc. London Bigsby medal, 2008

Relevant Publications

  • P.H. Barry*, M. Lawson, W.P. Meurer, D. Danabalan*, D.J. Byrne*, J.C. Mabry*, C.J. Ballentine Determining fluid migration and isolation times in multiphase crustal domains using noble gases. Geology 45 (2017) 775-778
  • P.H. Barry*, M. Lawson, W.P. Meurer, O. Warr*, J.C. Mabry*, D.J. Byrne*, C.J. Ballentine. Noble gas solubility models of hydrocarbon charge mechanism in the Sleipner Vest gas field. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 194 (2016) 291-309
  • G. Holland*, B. Sherwood Lollar, L. Li, G. Lacrampe-Couloume, G.F. Slater and C.J. Ballentine, Deep fracture fluids isolated in the crust since the Precambrian era. Nature 497 (2013) 357-360
  • S.M. Gilfillan*, B. Sherwood Lollar, G. Holland*, D. Blagburn, S. Stevens, M. Schoell, M. Cassidy, Z. Ding*, Z. Zhou*, G Lacrampe-Couloume & C.J. Ballentine. Solubility trapping in formation water as dominant CO2 sink in natural gas fields, Nature (letter) 458 (2009) 614-618
  • C.J. Ballentine and B. Sherwood Lollar, Regional groundwater focusing of nitrogen and noble gases into the Hugoton-Panhandle giant gas field, USA. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 66 (2002) 2483-2497

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CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.

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