How do we understand the life, groundwater and environments deep below the surface of a planet?

Earth 4D: Subsurface Science & Exploration


Beneath our feet is a vast, unexplored world consisting of up to tens of kilometres of thick crust containing water, gases, nutrients, resources, and various forms of life.

So far we investigated only a tiny fraction of the Earth’s subsurface, although it contains critical information needed to understand the complexities of chemical, physical and biological interactions on the Earth’s surface – and our everyday world. Investigating the interactions between the subsurface and the surface on Earth, the only planet we have ready access to, will inform and expand our understanding of planetary evolution and the possibility of finding life on other planets and moons in our solar system – and beyond.

The Earth 4D program’s multidisciplinary team focuses on the themes of water, life and space, with time as a fourth theme and overarching lens. No other research group has formalized this broad, disruptive approach and built a diverse intellectual community committed to tackling this challenge.

Founded in: 2019

CIFAR Director:
Daniel Bacinello

Fellows & Advisors

Program Directors

Jack Mustard
Program Director

John Mustard’s interdisciplinary research seeks to understand the processes that modify and shape the surface of the Earth and other planetary bodies.

Profile Outline
Barbara Sherwood Lollar
Program Director

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.