Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

What are gas hydrates?

Gas hydrates are a crystalline solid formed of water and gas. It looks and acts much like ice, but it contains huge amounts of methane; it is known to occur on every continent; and it exists in huge quantities in marine sediments in a layer several hundred meters thick directly below the sea floor and in association with permafrost in the Arctic. It is not stable at normal sea-level pressures and temperatures, which is the primary reason that it is a challenge to study.

Gas hydrates are important for three reasons:

  • They may contain a major energy resource
  • It may be a significant hazard because it alters sea floor sediment stability, influencing collapse and landsliding
  • The hydrate reservoir may have strong influence on the environment and climate, because methane is a significant greenhouse gas.

Learn more: