Dr. Nicholas Utting

Research Scientist (Geochemist)

Research into groundwater geochemistry problems related to oil and gas extraction and development.

Natural Resources Canada

Current research and/or projects


I am a hydrogeochemist who works on groundwater issues related to oil and gas development. My interest in earth science started at a young age. Growing up in Calgary, we had many family trips to the rockies and BC. My dad, who was a geologist with the Geological Survey of Canada for 30+ years would ask how I thought things formed. When I went to university I studied geology. Following my undergrad I knew I wanted to pursue hydrogeology and wanted to do work somewhere interesting. This took me to the University of Ottawa for a masters that turned into a PhD. I worked on using isotopic methods to study groundwater flow in permafrost. Following my PhD I worked in environmental consulting for a  few years. I am now excited to be back doing research working for NRCan like my dad did for so many years.

Research and/or project statements

Current Research Project:

  • Hydrogeology and geochemistry of reclamation of oil sands tailings.

Professional activities / interests

Review papers for Hydrogeology Journal, Applied Geochemistry and Journal of Hydrology and reviewed papers for International Water Conference 2016 (Water Resource in Arid areas: The Way Forward).

Education and awards

Ph.D. in Earth Science, University of Ottawa, 2012.

B.Sc., First Class Honours Geology, University of Calgary, Calgary, 2004.

Key publications

  1. Utting, N., Lauriol, B., Lacelle, D. and Clark, I. (2016). Using Noble Gas Ratios to Determine the Origin of Ground Ice, Quaternary Research, 85,#1, 177-184.

  2. Utting, N., Wade, W., Thompson, C. Woolley, T. and Enos, R.N. (2013). Using EC for baseflow separation in a discontinuous permafrost watershed: Crooked Creek, Alaska. Presentation at GeoMontreal, Montreal, October 2013. 

  3. Lacelle, D. Lauriol, B., Zazula, G., Ghaleb, B., Utting, N. and Clark, I. (2013). The Laurentide Ice Sheet in northwestern Arctic Canada: a short-lived glacial advance during the late Pleistocene, Quaternary Research, 80, #2, 274-283. 

  4. Utting, N. (2012) Geochemistry and Noble Gases of Permafrost Groundwater and Ground Ice in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, Canada. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada. 

  5. Utting, N., Clark, I. Lauriol, B., Wieser, M. and Aeschbach-Hertig, W. (2012) Origin and flow dynamics of perennial groundwater in continuous permafrost terrain using isotopes and noble gases: Case study of the Fishing Branch River, Northern Yukon, Canada, Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 23, #2, 91-106. 

  6. Utting, N., Lauriol, B., Mochnacz, N., Aeschbach-Hertig, W. and Clark, I. (2012) Noble gas and isotope geochemistry in western Canadian Arctic watersheds: tracing groundwater recharge in permafrost terrain. Hydrogeology Journal, Published in early view, DOI 10.1007/s10040-012-0913-8. Also presented a talk with the same title at IAH Niagara Falls Congress 2012, Niagara Falls, Canada. 

  7. Lacelle, D., Radtke, K., Clark, I.D., Fisher, D., Lauriol, B., Utting, N., Whyte, L.G. (2011). Isotope biosignatures provide evidence of microbial respiration in ancient terrestrial ground ice. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 306: 46-54. 

  8. Utting, N., Clark, I., and Mochnacz, N., (2009) Geochemistry of Perennial Groundwater Springs in the Mackenzie Basin. Abstract H72A-07: Presentation at AGU 2009 Joint Assembly: The Meeting of the Americas (International Conference), Toronto, May 2009. 

  9. Conant Jr, B., Mochnacz, N. and Utting, N. (2009). Infrared thermography and geochemistry to identify groundwater discharge locations for fish habit assessments. Presented at National Ground Water Association’s 2009 Ground Water Summit (International Conference) Tucson, Arizona, April 2009. (Presented by Conant, Jr. B.) 

  10. Utting, N., Clark, I., Aeschbach-Hertig, W. and Wieser, M. (2008) Noble Gases in Permafrost Perennial Groundwater Springs, Fishing Branch River, Yukon, Canada. Presentation at Goldschmidt (International Conference), Vancouver, July 2008. 

  11. Utting, N., Buchar, A. and Clark, I. (2008) Salmon Spawning and Perennial Groundwater Springs in Permafrost Terrain on the Fishing Branch River, Yukon. Poster Geological Association of Canada: Annual Conference (National Conference), Quebec City, May 2008. 

  12. Utting, N. and Clark, I. (2006) Water Chemistry and Noble Gases in Perennial Springs at Bear Cave Mountain, Fishing Branch River, Yukon. Poster Presented at Canadian Water Network: Connecting Water Resources Conference (National Conference), Montreal, November 2006.