Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

Earth Sciences Division Staff: Mark Conrad

Mark Conrad

Mark Conrad


Department Head for Geochemistry

Geochemistry Department


Phone: 510-486-6141

Fax: 510-486-5496


Biographical Summary

Dr. Conrad received his bachelor’s degree in geology from Pomona College in 1979, his master’s degree in geology from Dartmouth College in 1982 and his Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University in 1990.  During that time, he also spent about 3 years total working in mineral exploration for several companies in Mexico, the western United States and Alaska.  After a postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth College, he joined the Center for Isotope Geochemistry in the Earth Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1992.  In 2001, he became a Staff Geological Scientist and Head of the Geochemistry Department in 2006.  His primary interests include using stable isotope measurements of groundwater and soil gas to identify areas of microbial activity, especially pertaining to bioremediation.

Research Interests

Major research interests include the following areas:

  • Isotopic tracers of hydrologic processes - Specific research projects have focused on topics entailing determination groundwater source regions, estimation of fluid infiltration rates from the isotopic signatures of vadose zone pore water, and tracking fluid and contaminant migration through the unsaturated zone.
  • Isotope monitoring of subsurface biologic processes - This work has involved laboratory experiments to determine the magnitude of isotopic fractionation resulting from microbial metabolic processes.  There have also been a series of field studies of bioremediation of organic contaminants (including petroleum hydrocarbons and chlorinated solvents) and methane cycling.
  • Climate Change - Projects include a study of the isotopic compositions of the different components of the water cycle and a series of investigations of isotopic shifts recorded in the geologic record caused by natural climatic variations.
  • Crustal fluid-rock interaction - Research in this area has included isotopic studies of the effects of fluids on deep metamorphic processes, hydrothermal systems, and sedimentary basins.  Currently, isotopic measurements of water and CO2 are being used to examine the effects of heating on the chemistry of rocks at Yucca Mountain.


  • Ph.D. in Geology (Harvard University, March 1990)
    • Thesis: The relation of propylitic alteration and O18-depletion patterns to Ag/Au vein deposits in the Tayoltita mining district of Durango, Mexico.
  • A.M. in Geology (Dartmouth College, June 1982)
    • Thesis: Variations within the layering of the Skaergaard intrusion, East Greenland.
  • B.A. in Geology (Pomona College, May 1979)
    • Thesis: The petrology of a portion of the San Dimas Experimental Forest, San Gabriel Mountains, southern California.

Professional Experience

  • Head, Geochemistry Department, Earth Sciences Division ((Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; 5/06-present).
  • Staff Geological Scientist (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; 4/01-present): Transport of radionuclides through the vadose zone, influence of heating on the geochemistry of unsaturated rocks, monitoring subsurface microbial activity with stable isotopes, isotopic monitoring of the water cycle.
  • Geological Scientist (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; 5/95-3/01): Monitoring subsurface microbial activity with stable isotopes, fate and transport of groundwater contaminants, vadose zone hydrology, metal uptake by lichens, paleoclimatic patterns in California and stable isotope systematics of clay minerals.
  • Geologist Postdoctoral Fellow (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; 5/92- 5/95): Stable isotope evidence for subsurface microbial activity, groundwater hydrology and water-rock interaction in geothermal systems.
  • Research Associate (Dartmouth College; 10/90-5/92): Research on fluid-rock interaction in a moderate- to high-temperature geologic environments.
  • Consulting geologist (Meridian Gold Company; 4/88-12/88, 3/90-5/90): Evaluation of gold property in the Mother Lode of California.
  • Exploration Geologist (Anaconda Minerals Company; 6/80-10/80, 3/81-7/81, 6/82-8/83): Evaluation of the economic potential of mining properties in Alaska, Nevada and Mexico.
  • Summer Geologist (Noranda Exploration, Inc.; 5/79-8/79): Reconnaissance mapping of volcanic rocks in Arizona to evaluate mineral potential.

Professional Service

  • Editorial Board for Environmental Monitoring and Assessment (1998 - present).
  • Reviewer for Environmental Science & Technology, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Water Resources Research, Organic Geochemistry, Vadose Zone Journal, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, Geofluids, Geomedia II and Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology.
  • Reviewer of grant proposals for National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences, Environmental Remediation Science Program and Small Business Innovative Research Programs.
  • Associate Editor of Journal of Geophysical Research (1995-1998).
  • Member of California Environmental Protection Agency Ad-Hoc Workgroup for Criteria and Standards in the Verification of Bioremediation Processes.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Chemical Society
  • Geological Society of America
  • Mineralogical Society of America
  • American Geophysical Union
  • Society of Economic Geologists
  • Clay Minerals Society

Research Supervision

  • Katie Harding (University of California, Berkeley): PhD thesis research (2007-present).
  • Kaye Kamp (St. Aloysius School, Spokane, WA): Middle School teacher summer intern (2008).
  • Jenny Druhan (University of California, Berkeley): PhD thesis research (2007-present).
  • Cristina Ryan (University of California, Berkeley): Undergraduate research assistant (2006-2007).
  • Michelle Lo (Saratoga High School): DOE High School Summer Intern (2006).
  • Patrick Lee (University of California, Berkeley): PhD thesis research (2002-present).
  • Charlotte Carlson (Middlebury College): Undergrad Summer Intern (2003).
  • Michael Singleton: Postdoctoral Fellow (2002-2005).
  • Yit Arn Teh (University of California, Berkeley): PhD thesis research (2000-2004).
  • Simon Davis: Postdoctoral Fellow (1998-2000).
  • Donald Song (University of California, Berkeley): PhD thesis research (1997-2000).
  • Stephanie Cheng (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): Undergrad Summer Intern (1998).
  • Eric Pili: Postdoctoral Fellow (1997-1998).
  • Marco Aurelio Nadal De Masi (Stanford University): PhD thesis research 1996-1998).
  • Ilana Liebert (Dartmouth College): Undergraduate Summer Intern (1996).
  • John Bratton University of California, Berkeley): PhD thesis research (1995-1997).
  • Mariel Colon-Eliza (University of Turabo, Puerto Rico) Undergraduate Summer Intern (1995).
  • Hester Parker (Cornell University): PhD thesis research (1995-1996).
  • Traci Washington (Jackson State University): Undergraduate Summer Intern (1994, 1995).
  • Suzanne Anderson (University of California, Berkeley): PhD thesis research (1993-1995)