Barbara Sherwood Lollar

Barbara Sherwood Lollar


  • Program Co-Director, Earth 4D: Subsurface Science and Exploration


  • University of Toronto
Department of Earth Sciences


  • Canada




Barbara Sherwood Lollar is a geochemist with expertise in stable isotope geochemistry and hydrogeology, the fate of carbon-bearing fluids and gases such as CO2, CH4 and H2 in ancient fracture waters in the Earth’s crust, habitability and deep subsurface microbiology.

She established the scientific principles involved in using compound specific stable carbon isotope signatures to determine the source of contaminants in groundwater and to track their movement, fate, and particularly, the effectiveness of proposed environmental clean-up strategies. She also demonstrated the extreme antiquity of hydrogeologically ancient fracture waters – with residence times ranging from tens of millions of years in the Witwatersrand basin to billions of years in the Timmins mine in Northern Ontario, Canada.

Sherwood Lollar has served on many advisory boards including the NSERC Council and the United States National Academy of Sciences Space Studies Board. She is currently Director of the Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences Division of the Royal Society of Canada. She was Chair of the 2018 United States National Academy of Sciences Review for the Strategy for Astrobiology and the Search for Life in the Universe.


C.C. Patterson Award in Environmental Geochemistry from the Geochemical Society, 2019

Geological Association of Canada Logan Medal, 2018

Companion of the Order of Canada, 2016

NSERC John C. Polanyi Award, 2016

Fellow American Geophysical Union, 2015

Relevant Publications

Lamarche-Gagnon, G., J.L. Wadham, B. Sherwood Lollar, S. Arndt, P. Fietzek, A.D. Beaton, A.J. Tedstone, J. Telling, E.A. Bagshaw, J.R. Hawkings, T.J. Kohler, J.D. Karsky, M.C. Mowlem and M. Stibel. "Continuous pulsed export of methane supersaturated runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet." Nature (2019, January 3).

Li, L., B.A. Wing, T.H. Bui, J.M. McDermott, G.F. Slater, S. Wei, G. Lacrampe-Couloume and B. Sherwood Lollar. "Sulfur mass-independent fractionation in subsurface fracture waters indicates a long-standing sulfur cycle in Precambrian rocks." Nature Communications 7 (2016).

Wang, D.T., D.S. Gruen, B. Sherwood Lollar, et al. "Unique non-equilibrium clumped isotope signals in microbial methane." Science 348 (2015): 428-431.

Sherwood Lollar, B., T.C. Onstott, G. Lacrampe-Couloume and C.J. Ballentine. "The global production of hydrogen from the Precambrian lithosphere. Most downloaded news story on BBC World website on day of publication." Nature (2014).

Sherwood Lollar, B., T. Westgate, J. Ward, G.F. Slater and G. Lacrampe-Couloume. "Abiogenic formation of alkanes in the Earth’s crust as a minor source for global hydrocarbon reservoirs." Nature 416 (2002): 522-524.