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Natural Gas Hydrates in Permafrost and Marine Settings: Resources, Properties, and Environmental Issues
Project Number
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The objective of this Department of Energy (DOE)-U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Interagency Agreement (IA) is to provide world-class expertise and research in support of the goals of the 2005 Energy Act for National Methane Hydrates Research and Development (R&D); the DOE-led U.S. interagency roadmap for gas hydrates research; and elements of the USGS mission related to energy resources, global climate, and geohazards. This project extends USGS support to the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D program previously conducted under DE-AI26-05NT42496, DE-FE0002911 and DE-FE0023495


U.S. Geological Survey at Woods Hole, MA, Denver, CO, and Menlo Park, CA, Santa Cruz, CA


The USGS IA involves laboratory research and international field studies in which DOE/NETL has a significant interest. Geological and geophysical support for these efforts is critical to their success, and the USGS is uniquely qualified to provide this support. 
This IA is currently divided into six separate tasks. The primary objective of several tasks is to evaluate the production potential of the known gas hydrate accumulations on the North Slope of Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico. 
To serve energy resource goals of the Methane Hydrates R&D program on the U.S. Atlantic margin, the USGS will evaluate the need to conduct additional seismic evaluation of upper slope, gas hydrates in the northern Atlantic Margin and collaborate with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and other partners on determining potential sites for a future gas hydrates research drilling program. 
In order to develop a better understanding of gas hydrates, the USGS is conducting laboratory research to measure the properties of sediments containing synthetic hydrates using a range of experimental methods. The USGS also actively supports cooperative projects between the U.S. and international partners.


In the Arctic, the USGS has been involved for decades in geological and geophysical investigations that are helping scientists understand the full extent of the hydrate resource and the role of hydrates in high-latitude climate change. USGS research on marine hydrates is making important advances in our understanding of the occurrence and potential hazard of encountering subsurface gas hydrates during drilling in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This information will provide industry with better tools and data as oil and gas development moves into areas where gas hydrates could present potential hazards. USGS scientists are developing new tools and techniques in the laboratory to better understand the hydrate-bearing sediments. USGS and DOE scientists and engineers, along with industry, will work together to gain a better understanding of the nature and distribution of marine gas hydrates in an effort to develop this valuable resource.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

New Interagency Agreement awarded 5/21/20. 
For recent accomplishments from the prior iteration of the IA please see the project summary for DE-FE0023495 .

Current Status

USGS researchers are preparing for the completion of hydrate pressure core transfer and storage chambers as well as for field activity in support of potential Alaska North Slope drilling, logging, and coring of a hydrate reservoir leading to a hydrate reservoir flow test. The team is also initiating reprocessing and evaluation of existing seismic data off the U.S. northern Atlantic margin as a mechanism to assess the usefulness of the data for hydrate system prospecting and in helping to define what new seismic acquisition might be necessary. 

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution

$458,300 for Year 1

Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL – Richard Baker (
USGS – Carolyn Ruppel (