His first comprehensive work was Recherches sur le terrain crétacé supérieur de l’Angleterre et de l'Irlande, published in the Mémoires de la societé geologique du Nord in 1876. In this essay the palaeontological zones in the Chalk and Upper Greensand of Britain were for the first time marked out in detail, and the results of Dr Barrois’s original researches formed the basis of subsequent work, and were in all leading features confirmed. In 1876 Dr Barrois was appointed a collaborateur to the French Geological Survey, and a professor of geology in the University of Lille in 1877. In 1936 he was appointed member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
In other memoirs, among which may be mentioned those on the Cretaceous rocks of the Ardennes and of the Basin of Oviedo, Spain; on the (Devonian) Calcaire d’Erbray; on the Palaeozoic rocks of Brittany and of northern Spain; and on the granitic and metamorphic rocks of Brittany, Dr Barrois proved himself an accomplished petrologist as well as palaeontologist and field-geologist.
In 1881 he was awarded the Bigsby medal, and in 1901 the Wollaston medal by the Geological Society of London. He was chosen member of the Institute (Academy of Sciences) in 1904 and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London. In 1907, he created the Musée Houiller (Carboniferous Museum) alongside the Museum Gosselet in Lille.
Barrois's work covered the entire field of geology, and his work was rigorous and based on detailed observation. His fame spread internationally, even before he was recognized in his own country, and he was honored by many European and American academies. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1915. He was made Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur at the age of 37, and was named commander in 1923.
He was the brother of zoologist Jules Henri Barrois.
- Jacob, Charles (1947). "Charles Barrois. 1851-1939". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 5 (15): 286. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1947.0001.
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Barrois, Charles". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 438–439.
- "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 May 2011.