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Tom Gleeson


Assistant Professor

475D Macdonald Engineering Building
817 Sherbrooke Street West
Tel: 514-398-5993
Fax: 514-398-7361
tom [dot] gleeson [at] mcgill [dot] ca (e-mail)


PhD, Civil Engineering, Queen’s University (2009)
MSc, Earth Sciences Department, SFU (2003)
Certificate Program in University Teaching, SFU (2003)
BSc, Earth and Ocean Sciences, UVic (1999)


I am a hydrogeologist interested in groundwater sustainability, regional- to continental-scale groundwater systems, groundwater-surface water interactions and fluid flow around geologic structures. I address these varied research interests by integrating disciplines that are not often combined: field methods, numerical modeling, environmental chemistry, structural geology, GIS and policy studies. I love new ideas and experiences, food and yoga, and helping people and the world. I grew up building forts in Ontario, moved west to climb mountains, study geology and work as a consulting hydrogeologist, and zigzagged across Canada for a doctorate at Queen’s and postdoc at UBC. I’m thrilled to be at McGill and living in Montreal.

Research Interests

  1. Groundwater footprints and sustainability
    Can groundwater development be sustainable in different hydrologic and political settings? Sustainable development of groundwater resources is a crucial and significant societal challenge. This interdisciplinary research strand integrates recent hydrogeologic research with cutting-edge sustainability concepts such as strong sustainability, backcasting, multi-generational goal setting and adaptive management.
  2. Mega-scale groundwater systems
    Are regional- to continental-scale groundwater processes different from local-scale processes? Both groundwater management and science are generally limited to the scale of small watersheds, and yet better understanding and management of large-scale groundwater resources is also critical. 
  3. Groundwater recharge and discharge
    How does water cross the land surface in diverse hydrologic settings? Recharge and discharge processes are a critical connection between the hydrosphere and geosphere and are vital to groundwater sustainability and surface water ecology.
  4. Fluid flow around geologic structures
    How do faults and fractures impact fluid flow? Feedbacks between fluid flow and faults are critical to problems such as earthquakes, carbon sequestration and the safety of shale gas development.

Selected publications

Please see the pulications page of my personal research webpage for full list of publications. Students are underlined.

 Aeschbach-Hertig, W. and Gleeson, T., (2012) Regional strategies for the accelerating global problem of groundwater depletion. Nature Geoscience, 5: 853-861.

Gleeson, T., Wada, Y., Bierkens, M.F.P. and van Beek, L.P.H. (2012) Sustainable water balance of global aquifers revealed by groundwater footprint. Nature, 488: 197–200

Ferguson, G. and Gleeson, T. (2012) Vulnerability of coastal aquifers to climate change and groundwater use, Nature Climate Change, 2: 342-345 doi:10.1038/nclimate1413

Gleeson, T., Smith. L., Jansen, N., Hartmann, J., Dürr, H., Manning, A.H.,van Beek, R. and A.M. Jellinek (2011) Mapping permeability over the surface of the earth. Geophysical Research Letters, 38, L02401, doi:10.1029/2010GL045565. 

Gleeson, T., VanderSteen, J., Sophocleous, M.A., Taniguchi, T., Alley, W.M., Allen, D.M., and Zhou, Y. (2010) Groundwater sustainability strategies. Nature Geoscience, 3:378-379.

Gleeson, T., and Novakowski, K. (2009) Identifying watershed-scale barriers to groundwater flow: lineaments in the Canadian Shield. Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 121, no. 3/4, p. 333–347; doi: 10.1130/B26241.1


For more information see the teaching page of my personal research webpage.

CIVE 323 Hydrology and Water Resources 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

CIVE 520 Groundwater Hydrology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer



  • William Dawson Scholar (2014-2019)
  • CIFAR Junior Fellowship (2011-2013)
  • NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2009-2011)
  • Trevor C. Holland Fellowship from Queen’s University (2009)
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2007-2008)
  • Queen's Graduate Award (2005-2009)
  • NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship (2005-2006)
  • Environmental Youth Corp Internship (2003)
  • NSERC Graduate Research Scholarship (2002-2003)
  • NSERC Undergraduate Research Scholarship (1999)


  • Associate Editor, Hydrogeology Journal (2011-2014)
  • Member, Departmental Computer Committee (2012-)
  • Member, Departmental Scholarship Committee (2011-)
  • Session Convener, AGU 2010 “Mega-scale hydrogeology", 2011 AGU "Coastal hydrogeology" and 2012 IAH "Groundwater sustainability"
  • Invited speaker at Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Canadian Water Network, UBC, SFU
  • Student representative, AGU Hydrology Section Executive Committee (2008-2010)
  • Postdoctoral Representative, Earth and Ocean Sciences faculty retreat, UBC (2010)