Chris J Ballentine

Chris J Ballentine
University of Oxford | OX · Department of Earth Sciences

PhD, University of Cambridge

About

275
Publications
55,140
Reads
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8,026
Citations
Citations since 2017
77 Research Items
3835 Citations
20172018201920202021202220230200400600
20172018201920202021202220230200400600
20172018201920202021202220230200400600
20172018201920202021202220230200400600
Additional affiliations
September 2017 - September 2022
University of Oxford
Position
  • Head of Department
August 2013 - present
University of Oxford
Position
  • Professor of Geochemistry
September 2001 - July 2013
The University of Manchester
Position
  • Lecturer

Publications

Publications (275)
Preprint
East Africa hosts significant reserves of untapped geothermal energy. Most exploration has focused on geologically young (<1 Ma) silicic caldera volcanoes, yet there are many sites of geothermal potential where there is no clear link to an active volcano. The origin and architecture of these systems is poorly understood. Here, we combine remote sen...
Article
Fluids such as ⁴He, H2, CO2 and hydrocarbons accumulate within Earth's crust. Crustal reservoirs also have potential to store anthropogenic waste (e.g., CO2, spent nuclear fuel). Understanding fluid migration and how this is impacted by basin stratigraphy and evolution is key to exploiting fluid accumulations and identifying viable storage sites. N...
Article
Full-text available
Deep within the Precambrian basement rocks of the Earth, groundwaters can sustain subsurface microbial communities, and are targets of investigation both for geologic storage of carbon and/or nuclear waste, and for new reservoirs of rapidly depleting resources of helium. Noble gas-derived residence times have revealed deep hydrological settings whe...
Article
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Krypton‐81 dating provides new insights into the timing, mechanisms, and extent of meteoric flushing versus retention of saline fluids in the subsurface in response to changes in geologic and/or climatic forcings over 50 ka to 1.2 Ma year timescales. Remnant Paleozoic seawater‐derived brines associated with evaporites in the Paradox Basin, Colorado...
Article
Radiogenic ⁴He is naturally produced in Earth's crust due to alpha decay of Uranium (U) and Thorium (Th). Helium has unique thermodynamic properties required for the medical imaging industry, aerospace and other fields of high-tech manufacturing, and currently is in increasingly high demand. Despite its economic value, the mechanisms of helium migr...
Article
Full-text available
Abiotic H2 produced in the Precambrian lithospheric crust is a key substrate at the base of the metabolic chain of chemosynthetic and photosynthesis-independent microbial communities, significant to our understanding of life on early Earth and other planets. H2 cycling processes are also relevant to recent hydrogen exploration efforts and engineere...
Article
The Paradox Basin in the Colorado Plateau (USA) has some of the most iconic records of paleofluid flow, including sandstone bleaching and ore mineralization, and hydrocarbon, CO2, and He reservoirs, yet the sources of fluids responsible for these extensive fluid-rock reactions are highly debated. This study, for the first time, characterizes fluids...
Article
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The extent to which primordial mantle domains have survived billions of years of convective mixing is a fundamental question in mantle dynamics and geochemistry. The observation that around half of Earth’s ⁴⁰Ar is missing from the atmosphere has been used to argue for a largely primordial, convectively isolated lower mantle. This hypothesis is appa...
Article
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Commercial helium systems have been found to date as a serendipitous by-product of petroleum exploration. There are nevertheless significant differences in the source and migration properties of helium compared with petroleum. An understanding of these differences enables prospects for helium gas accumulations to be identified in regions where petr...
Article
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Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a key technology to mitigate the environmental impact of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions. An understanding of the potential trapping and storage mechanisms is required to provide confidence in safe and secure CO 2 geological sequestration 1,2 . Depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs have substantial CO 2 storage potent...
Article
The transport of helium from the crystalline continental basement and overlying Phanerozoic sedimentary formations to the near surface can be controlled by both diffusive and advective processes. The relative role of each is vital to helium resource prediction, and important in quantifying the residence times of fluids relevant to groundwater resou...
Article
How much nitrogen and light noble gases are recycled in modern subduction zones is unclear. Fumaroles act as a means for passive degassing in arcs. They receive variable contributions of volatiles from arc magmas, themselves sourced from the mantle wedge. The gas compositions reflect the extent of volatile enrichment in sub-arc mantle sources and c...
Article
Volatiles, such as carbon and noble gases, are continuously degassed from Earth's mantle and crust to Earth's surface in continental rifting systems. Here, we present He-Ne-Ar abundances and isotopes as well as major gas chemistry (CO2, He, Ar and CH4) data for (n = 13) naturally-degassing seeps in the Rungwe Volcanic Province (RVP) of the East Afr...
Article
In regions where water resources are scarce and in high demand, it is important to safeguard against contamination of groundwater aquifers by oil-field fluids (water, gas, oil). In this context, the geochemical characterisation of these fluids is critical so that anthropogenic contaminants can be readily identified. The first step is characterising...
Article
Volatile elements are concentrated at Earth's surface, forming a rich atmosphere and oceans which enabled the eventual emergence of life. However, volatiles are also abundant in solid Earth reservoirs, such as the crust and mantle, and these reservoirs play a key role in moderating volatile movement throughout the planet. Continental cratons repres...
Article
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Noble gases record fluid interactions in multiphase subsurface environments through fractionation processes during fluid equilibration. Water in the presence of hydrocarbons at the subsurface acquires a distinct elemental signature due to the difference in solubility between these two fluids. We find the atmospheric noble gas signature in produced...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Interpreting surface evidences to infer deeper for oil production for more than one centu-, and structures or processes has always been a major goal presents also series of m u d volcanoes, with in Earth Sciences. Gas and oil esploration has continuous gas bubbling. W e have analyzed gases started in observing the oil and gas seeps above bubbling f...
Article
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Geothermal systems are complex environments where geochemical signatures are controlled by the influx of deep mantle fluids as well as near-surface processes that result from the high temperatures. Noble gas isotope ratios (e.g. ³He/⁴He, ²⁰Ne/²²Ne) are well-established tracers of deep mantle fluid provenance, and elemental fractionation of atmosphe...
Article
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Volatile elements play a critical role in the evolution of Earth. Nevertheless, the mechanism(s) by which Earth acquired, and was able to preserve its volatile budget throughout its violent accretionary history, remains uncertain. In this study, we analyzed noble gas isotopes in volcanic gases from the Yellowstone mantle plume, thought to sample th...
Article
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Nitrogen is the main constituent of the Earth’s atmosphere, but its provenance in the Earth’s mantle remains uncertain. The relative contribution of primordial nitrogen inherited during the Earth’s accretion versus that subducted from the Earth’s surface is unclear1–6. Here we show that the mantle may have retained remnants of such primordial nitro...
Article
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Volatile elements (e.g., H, C, N) have a strong influence on the physical and chemical evolution of planets and are essential for the development of habitable conditions. Measurement of the volatile and incompatible heavy halogens, Cl, Br, and I, can provide insight into volatile distribution and transport processes, due to their hydrophilic nature...
Article
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The migration of hydrocarbons from source-rock to reservoir is a critical stage in petroleum system evolution. However, as migration occurs along confined pathways over geologically rapid timescales it is challenging to place quantitative constraints on migration behaviour in terms of interaction with other basinal fluids, flux, and lengthscales as...
Article
Geochemical data from 40 water wells were used to examine the occurrence and sources of radium (Ra) in groundwater associated with three oil fields in California (Fruitvale, Lost Hills, South Belridge). ²²⁶Ra+²²⁸Ra activities (range = 0.010–0.51 Bq/L) exceeded the 0.185 Bq/L drinking-water standard in 18% of the wells (not drinking-water wells). Ra...
Article
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An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
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Change history: In this Article, the original affiliation 2 was not applicable and has been removed. In addition, in the Acknowledgements there was a statement missing and an error in a name. These errors have been corrected online.
Article
The formation and segregation of oceanic and continental crust from the mantle, and its return to the mantle via subduction and/or delamination, leads to the development of distinct geochemical reservoirs in the terrestrial mantle. Fundamental questions remain regarding the location, nature, and residence time of these reservoirs, as well as the re...
Article
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Carbon and other volatiles in the form of gases, fluids or mineral phases are transported from Earth’s surface into the mantle at convergent margins, where the oceanic crust subducts beneath the continental crust. The efficiency of this transfer has profound implications for the nature and scale of geochemical heterogeneities in Earth’s deep mantle...
Article
We present halogen, noble gas, and major and trace element compositions of mantle xenoliths from intraplate settings (Eifel, Kilbourne Hole, San Carlos, and Hawaii). The xenoliths show a wide range of halogen elemental ratios, which form two arrays centered on the halogen composition of mid-ocean ridge basalts. The samples on the array toward high...
Article
Full-text available
Halogens are primarily located within surface reservoirs of the Earth; as such they have proven to be effective tracers for the identification of subducted volatiles within the mantle. Subducting lithologies exhibit a wide variety of halogen compositions, yet the mantle maintains a fairly uniform signature, suggesting halogens may be homogenised du...
Article
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In the version of this Article originally published, refs 28–31 were listed in the wrong order, resulting in the citations in the main text being incorrect. The citations and reference list have now been updated in the online versions; the corrected order is shown below.
Article
Millions of people globally, and particularly in South and Southeast Asia, face chronic exposure to arsenic from reducing groundwater in which arsenic release is widely attributed to the reductive dissolution of arsenic-bearing iron minerals, driven by metal reducing bacteria using bioavailable organic matter as an electron donor. However, the natu...
Article
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Hydrocarbon migration and emplacement processes remain underconstrained despite the vast potential economic value associated with oil and gas. Noble gases provide information about hydrocarbon generation, fluid migration pathways, reservoir conditions, and the relative volumes of oil versus water in the subsurface. Produced gas He-Ne-Ar-Kr-Xe data...
Article
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Magmatic volatile release to the atmosphere can lead to climatic changes and substantial environmental degradation includ-ing the production of acid rain, ocean acidification and ozone depletion, potentially resulting in the collapse of the biosphere. The largest recorded mass extinction in Earth’s history occurred at the end of the Permian, coinci...
Article
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The recent proliferation of tight or unconventional petroleum bearing reservoirs as an energy resource enables a more detailed investigation of the geochemical behaviour of these systems. In addition, it provides an opportunity to improve our understanding of low-permeability crustal fluid systems at depth. Organic-rich shales are not only the sour...
Article
We examined F, Cl, Br and I concentrations and distributions in eclogite facies rocks and minerals from the Western and Central Alpine ophiolitic zone to determine halogen behaviour in subduction zones, and to identify potential host phases that may be able to transport halogens to the deeper mantle. Analysis was carried out on a range of ophioliti...
Article
Fracture fluids in Earth's crust may remain isolated for millions to billions of years, and contain information on paleohydrogeology, subsurface microbial life, and conservative components that help elucidate the atmospheric evolution of the early Earth. Examples include fluids in the South African Kaapvaal craton which host chemolithoautotrophic m...
Article
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Petroleum systems represent complex multiphase subsurface environments. The properties of the noble gases as conservative physical tracers allow them to be used to gain insight into the physical behaviour occurring within hydrocarbon systems. This can be used to better understand the mechanisms of hydrocarbon migration, residence time of fluids, an...
Article
Chronic exposure to arsenic (As) through the consumption of contaminated groundwaters is a major threat to public health in South and Southeast Asia. The source of As-affected groundwaters is important to the fundamental understanding of the controls on As mobilization and subsequent transport throughout shallow aquifers. Using the stable isotopes...
Article
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Volatile element delivery and retention played a fundamental part in Earth's formation and subsequent chemical differentiation. The heavy halogens - chlorine (Cl), bromine (Br) and iodine (I) - are key tracers of accretionary processes owing to their high volatility and incompatibility, but have low abundances in most geological and planetary mater...
Article
We show that fluid volumes residing within the Precambrian crystalline basement account for ca 30% of the total groundwater inventory of the Earth (> 30 million km³). The residence times and scientific importance of this groundwater are only now receiving attention with ancient fracture fluids identified in Canada and South Africa showing: (1) micr...
Article
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The subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM) constitutes a significant portion of the upper mantle sourcing magmatic volatiles to the continents above, yet its geochemical signature and evolution remain poorly constrained. Here we present new interpretation of noble gas datasets from two magmatic CO2 fields in the SW US, namely Bravo Dome and Shee...
Article
Noble gases may be considered as the most prominent tracers of natural fluids, including hydrocarbons. The atmosphere is the only source of ²⁰Ne, ³⁶Ar, ⁸⁴Kr, ¹³⁰Xe in subsurface environments, and their concentrations in pore waters after recharge are known from the solubility data. This allows modelling of noble gas partitioning between coexisting...
Article
Subduction of hydrous and carbonated oceanic lithosphere replenishes the mantle volatile inventory. Substantial uncertainties exist on the magnitudes of the recycled volatile fluxes and it is unclear whether Earth surface reservoirs are undergoing net-loss or net-gain of H2O and CO2. Here, we use noble gases as tracers for deep volatile cycling. Sp...
Article
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The dissolution of CO2 into formation brines and the subsequent reactions of the CO2-charged brines with reservoir minerals are two key processes likely to increase the security of geological carbon-dioxide storage. These processes will be dependent on the permeability structure and mineral compositions of the reservoirs, but there is limited obser...
Article
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Geochemical characteristics in subsurface fluid systems provide a wealth of information about fluid sources, migration, and storage conditions. Determining the extent of fluid interaction (aquifer-hydrocarbon connectivity) is important for oil and gas production and waste storage applications, but is not tractable using traditional seismic methods....
Article
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Halogens and noble gases within submarine basaltic glasses are critical tracers of interactions between the surface volatile reservoirs and the mantle. However, as the halogens and noble gases are concentrated within seawater, sediments, and the oceanic crust this makes the original volatile signature of submarine basaltic lavas susceptible to geoc...
Article
Water, as the oxide of the most abundant element in the universe, is widespread in the galaxy. On the Earth, it plays a fundamentally important role in both the Earth and life sciences. Water controls the rheology of the deep Earth and its ability to convect affects igneous processes by increasing
Article
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Halogens show a range from moderate (F) to highly (Cl, Br, I) volatile and incompatible behavior, which makes them excellent tracers for volatile transport processes in the Earth’s mantle. Experimentally determined fluorine and chlorine partitioning data between mantle minerals and silicate melt enable us to estimate Mid Ocean Ridge Basalt (MORB) a...
Article
Arsenic contamination of groundwaters in South and Southeast Asia is a major threat to public health. In order to better understand the geochemical controls on the mobility of arsenic in a heavily arsenic-affected aquifer in northern Kandal Province, Cambodia, key changes in inorganic aqueous geochemistry have been monitored at high vertical and la...
Article
Full-text available
The world-class Macraes orogenic gold deposit (∼10 Moz resource) formed during the late metamorphic uplift of a metasedimentary schist belt in southern New Zealand. Mineralising fluids, metals and metalloids were derived from within the metasedimentary host. Helium and argon extracted from fluid inclusions in sulphide mineral grains (three crush ex...