Peter Douglas

Assistant Professor and William Dawson Scholar 

Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences
3450 University St.
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3A 0E8

Email: peter.douglas [at]

Tel: 514.398.6772

Research website



EPSC 590 Applied Geochemistry Seminar 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

ESYS 200 Earth System Processes 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


Both the Earth’s water and carbon cycles are highly sensitive to climate change, with important implications for both the future of global water resources and possible carbon-cycle feedbacks to global warming. My research is centered around analyzing the abundance of rare isotopes in individual organic molecules to trace water and carbon-cycle change in time and space. Much of my work focuses on analyses of freshwater and coastal sediments in order to understand both modern biogeochemical processes and environmental change on timescales ranging from months to millions of years. Specific questions I am interested in include: how methane production by microorganisms in aquatic environments responds to environmental change; how the transport and storage of organic carbon in terrestrial ecosystems is influenced by climate change and human land use; and how precipitation and ecohydrology have been affected by past intervals of global and regional climate change. I also have a long-standing interest in how ancient societies both altered biogeochemical cycles and were impacted by past climate change.

Recent Publications

Douglas, P. M. J., Pagani, M., Eglinton, T. I., Brenner, M., Curtis, J. H., Breckinridge, A., and Johnston, K., (2018).  A long-term decrease in the persistence of soil carbon caused by ancient Maya land use.  Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/s41561-018-0192-7.

Shaui, Y., Douglas, P. M. J., Zhang, S., Stolper, D. A., Lewan, M., Lawson, M., Ellis, G., Mi, J., He, K., Hu, G., and Eiler, J. M., (2018).  Equilibrium and non-equilibrium controls on the abundances of clumped isotopologues of methane during thermogenic formation; Implications for the chemistry of pyrolysis and the origin of natural gases.  Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 223, p. 159-174.

Shaui, Y., Etiope, G., Zhang, S., Douglas, P. M. J., Huang, L., and Eiler, J. M., (2018).  Methane clumped isotopes in Songliao Basin (China): New insights into abiotic vs biotic hydrocarbon distribution.  Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 482, p. 213-221.

Douglas, P. M. J., Stolper, D. A., Eiler, J. M., Sessions, A. L., Lawson, M., Shaui, Y., Bishop, A., Podlaha, O. G., Ferreira, A. A., Santos Neto, E. V., Niemann, M., Steen, A. S., Huang, L., Chimiak, L., Valentine, D. L., Fiebig, J., Luhmann, A. J., Seyfried Jr., W. E., Etiope, G., Schoell, M., Inskeep, W. P., Moran, J. J., and Kitchen, N., (2017).  Clumped isotopes in methane; Progress and potential for a new isotopic tracer.  Organic Geochemistry, v. 113, p. 262-282.

Stolper, D. A., Lawson, M., Formolo, M. J., Davis, C. L., Douglas, P. M. J., Sessions, A. L., Eiler, J. M., (2017).  The utility of methane clumped isotopes to constrain the origins of methane in natural gas accumulations.  Geological Society of London Special Publications, v. 468, p. 23-52.

Douglas P.M.J., Stolper D., Smith D., Walter Anthony K., Paull C., Dallimore S., Wik M., Crill P., Winterdahl M., Eiler J. and Sessions A. L., (2016).  Diverse origins of Arctic and Subarctic methane point source emissions identified with multiply-substituted isotopologues. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 188, p. 163-188.

Douglas, P.M.J., Demarest, A.A., Brenner, M., and Canuto, M.A., (2016).  Impacts of Climate Change on the Collapse of Lowland Maya Civilization.  Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences, v. 44, p. 613-645.

Douglas, P. M. J., Brenner, M., Curtis, J. H., (2016).  Methods and future directions for paleoclimatology in the Maya Lowlands.  Global and Planetary Change, v. 138, p. 3-24.

Complete list

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