Cathy Ryan

Professor, Geoscience, University of Calgary

Groundwater and surface water researcher with a focus on community and environment


U of C researchers make explosive geyser discovery

Metro Calgary, May 17, 2016Online


Ladd, who works under Dr. Cathy Ryan, said after studying the water for weeks, they came to the conclusion that dissolved gas did in fact play a role. “After looking at all of our data we saw very promising patterns in the data,” she said. “The major pattern was a build up of CO2 just prior to an eruption, followed by a decrease after an eruption.”...

University of Calgary professor warns of challenges cleaning creosote-contaminated West Village lands

The Calgary Sun, September 5, 2015Online


Remediating creosote contamination is no easy task, and might not even be possible to do completely when groundwater is involved, a geology professor is warning. “It is really, really, really difficult,” said Dr. Cathy Ryan, a professor of geoscience at the University of Calgary. “The problem is that it is an oily, viscous liquid, or close to a liquid, and some of it is denser than water and some of it is less dense than water. “The part that is less dense than water is easier because it floats on the water table. “The part that is denser than water sinks through pores and cracks in the (soil) and one never knows how deep it goes because if you drill down to figure out where it is, you can actually mobilize it deeper.”

Passive evaporation of source-separated urine from dry toilets: prototype design and field testing using municipal water

Published by Journal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

2015 A prototype urine evaporation unit (UEU) that removes water from human urine produced from a urine-diverting dry toilet using passive solar evaporation was designed and field-tested at a meteorological station. Municipal water was evaporated on vertically stacked plastic cafeteria-style trays that create a large evaporation surface with a small land-area footprint. The trays were located inside a Plexiglas® enclosure exposed to UV light while passively heating the UEU like a solar oven. A metal black chimney also heated up ...


Passive evaporation of source-separated urine from dry toilets: UES optimization and dry product accumulation over time

Published by Journal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

2016 A urine evaporation system (UES) was optimized and evaluated in a laboratory by adding 5 L of urine at the same time each day for 65 days. The UES consisted of a wooden box that is open at the front only with tracks for 22 vertically stacked cafeteria-type trays and a fan and chimney at the back. Urine flowed from tray to tray via gravity exiting each tray via a weir along the long side of the tray. A distinctive physical and chemical zonation in the solid urine product was observed from the upper to lower trays due to leaching of ...


Dissolved gas ‘concentrations’ or ‘concentration estimates’e A comment on “Origin, distribution and hydrogeochemical controls on methane occurrences in shallow aquifers, southwestern Ontario, Canada”

Published by Applied Geochemistry

2015 The need for research into the occurrence, origin, and fate of groundwater gases is reflected in an almost exponential increase in peer-reviewed publications involving dissolved groundwater gases. We enthusiastically endorse all efforts to develop baseline inventory of groundwater methane concentrations, and other markers, prior to exploitation of unconventional gas sources, as McIntosh et al.(2014) have done. In our view, however, the lack of verified, standard approaches for the combined sampling, storage, manipulation, ...


Controls on nitrate loading and implications for BMPs under intensive potato production systems in Prince Edward Island, Canada

Published by Groundwater Monitoring and Remediation

2015 Potato production is critical to economy of Prince Edward Island (PEI), but has been linked to increasing groundwater nitrate contamination and anoxic events in estuaries. Given that PEI is entirely groundwater-dependent for potable water, this has resulted in considerable pressure to find solutions to protect water quality. However, our understanding of the controls on nitrate loading to groundwater, and the consequent potential to mitigate nitrate loading through beneficial management practices (BMPs), is limited. In PEI, flow ...


Can CO2 trigger a thermal geyser eruption?

Published by Geology

2016 Geyser eruptions are produced by a complex and poorly understood set of subsurface processes and conditions. They typically have an abundant supply of water, relatively permeable and competent subsurface material, a conduit to the surface, a driving mechanism (commonly believed to be the initiation of gas lift pumping by steam formation in the conduit), and a trigger. Here we present time series of dissolved CO 2 concentrations in near-surface discharge waters of a thermal geyser in Yellowstone National Park ...



2012-Present: Professor, Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary, Alberta 2014-Present: Adjunct Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, Dalhousie University 2010-2015: Director, Water Management in Nicaragua and Central America (CIDA project)


Plenary Speaker at the Canadian National Congress of the International Association of Hydrogeologists Meeting | Professional

Invited speaker at IAH

Faculty of Science Community Outreach Award | Professional

Recognition of community-relevant research

City of Calgary Award for Individual Environmental Achievement | Professional


Additional Titles and Affiliations

University of Waterloo Department of Earth and Environmental Science : Adjunct Professor

Water Management in Nicaragua and Central America (CIDA project) : Director

Research Grants

Soapholes as potential analogs for fugitive methane gas migration to surface: A reconnaissance study

Organization: Vice-president research - Matching energy fund



Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Development: A Shallow Aquifer Controlled Methane Release Experiment

Organization: NSERC Strategic Project Grant



Field investigation to understand SCVF and groundwater methane migration issues

Organization: Alberta Upstream Petroleum Research Fund



Free gas transport in the subsurface: Analogues and applications

Organization: NSERC Discovery Grant




Method and system for sampling dissolved gas

Patent number: 7634936 | Date: December 22, 2009


More info:


  • Stratigraphy
  • Hydrogeology
  • Groundwater
  • Geochemistry
  • Geology
  • Environmental Science
  • Earth Science


  • University of Waterloo
    Earth Sciences
    Ph. D., 1994

  • University of Waterloo
    Earth Sciences
    M.Sc., 1987

  • Queen's University
    Geological Engineering