Where are gas hydrates found?

Gas hydrates are found in sub-oceanic sediments in the polar regions (shallow water) and in continental slope sediments (deep water), where pressure and temperature conditions combine to make them stable.

Image shows a map of the world with locations of gas hydrates marked

Map showing locations where gas hydrate has been recovered, where gas hydrate is inferred to be present on the basis of seismic data, and where gas hydrate drilling expeditions have been completed in permafrost or deep marine environments, also leading to recovery of gas hydrate.

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Who studies gas hydrates?

Currently, groups of scientists in the U.S., Canada, Norway, Great Britain and Japan are working to try to understand gas hydrates and the role it plays in the global climate and the future of fuels. The USGS Gas Hydrates Project focuses on the study of natural gas hydrates in deepwater marine systems and permafrost areas. The primary goals are:...

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...

How are gas hydrates studied?

Gas hydrates can be studied in the laboratory, where a machine is used to create the proper pressure and temperature conditions for hydrate formation, or it can be studied in situ using seismic data collected aboard ships and geophysical models. Learn more: USGS Gas Hydrates Lab
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Date published: April 26, 2019

Test Well Confirms Two Gas Hydrate Reservoirs in Alaska North Slope

In the far north of Alaska, near the giant Prudhoe Bay oil field, an international research consortium has been studying the potential of an altogether different energy source.  In late December of 2018, drilling operations confirmed the existence of two high-quality reservoirs that were fully saturated with a potential alternative fuel source: gas hydrate.

Date published: February 27, 2019

The interaction of climate change and methane hydrates is one of the Reviews of Geophysics' top rated articles!

According to Reviews of Geophysics this work received some of the highest count of citations amongst articles published between January 2017 and December 2018.

Date published: September 20, 2018

Seismic Research Cruise Provides New Data on U.S. Atlantic Margin Gas Hydrates

Data acquired by the U.S. Geological Survey on the U.S. Atlantic Margin in August 2018 reveal new information about the distribution of gas hydrates in the sector stretching from the upper continental slope to deep water areas offshore New Jersey to North Carolina.

Date published: March 8, 2018

Modern Perspective on Gas Hydrates

After lying hidden in sediments for thousands of years, delicate frozen gas structures are in the spotlight for both scientific research and the national interest. These structures, known as gas hydrate, are being investigated by scientists the world over for their possible contributions to the global energy mix, as well as their potential interaction with the environment.

Date published: October 18, 2017

EarthWord–Gas Hydrate

No, this EarthWord isn’t how natural gas quenches its thirst-it just sounds like it...

Date published: October 16, 2017

When Ice Yields Fire

When can ice yield fire? That’s the burning question at the heart of one of USGS’s longest-running research programs to date: the exploration of gas hydrates.

Date published: January 4, 2017

Exploring Gas Hydrates as a Future Energy Source

In the past decade, the development of the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and other shales has dominated the national consciousness regarding natural gas. But in Alaska, another form of natural gas has been the focus of research for decades—methane hydrate.

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Image shows an undersea gas hydrate formation with shellfish on it.
February 8, 2017

Gulf of Mexico Gas Hydrate Formation

Gas hydrate (white, ice-like material) under authigenic carbonate rock that is encrusted with deep-sea chemosynthetic mussels and other organisms on the seafloor of the northern Gulf of Mexico at 966 m (~3170 ft) water depth.  Although gas hydrate that forms on the seafloor is not an important component of the global gas hydrate inventory, deposits such as these

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Image shows a cross-section of the seafloor showing gas hydrate locations
February 8, 2017

Gas Hydrate Schematic

Summary of the locations where gas hydrate occurs beneath the seafloor, in permafrost areas, and beneath some ice sheets, along with the processes (shown in red) that destroy methane (sinks) in the sediments, ocean, and atmosphere.  The differently colored circles denote different sources of methane.  Gas hydrates are likely breaking down now on shallow continental

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video thumbnail: USGS Gas Hydrates Lab
April 30, 2012

USGS Gas Hydrates Lab

Gas hydrates are a significant potential energy source occurring in ocean-floor sediments at water depths greater than 500 meters and beneath Arctic permafrost. The USGS operates a gas hydrates laboratory on its Menlo Park campus. This video features USGS geophysicists Laura Stern and Steve Kirby who relate details on how they study and create gas hydrates in their super-

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USGS
November 11, 2008

Gas Hydrates on Alaska's North Slope

The USGS estimates that there are 85.4 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas from natural gas hydrates on the Alaskan North Slope. This is the first-ever resource estimate of technically recoverable natural gas hydrates in the world.

This assessment shows that gas hydrates could add significantly to the U.S. energy mix. The Alaskan North

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Image shows gas hydrates in marine sediments from a drill core
December 31, 2006

Gas Hydrates in Marine Sediments from the Indian Ocean

This image shows gas hydrates (the white material) in marine sediments from a test well drilled in the Indian Ocean in 2006 during the Indian National Gas Hydrate Program (NGHP) Expedition 01.

The NGHP Expedition 01 was designed to study the gas-hydrate occurrences off the Indian Peninsula and along the Andaman convergent margin with special emphasis on

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Image shows gas hydrates in marine sediments with a ruler along the side to show scale
December 31, 2006

Gas Hydrates in Marine Sediments

This image shows gas hydrates (the white material) in marine sediments from a test well drilled in the Indian Ocean in 2006 during the Indian National Gas Hydrate Program (NGHP) Expedition 01.

The NGHP Expedition 01 was designed to study the gas-hydrate occurrences off the Indian Peninsula and along the Andaman convergent margin with special emphasis on

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Image shows gas hydrate samples in blue-gloved hands
December 31, 2002

Gas Hydrates in Marine Sediments off the Oregon Coast

During Ocean Drilling Program Leg 204, nine sites were cored and wireline logged on the Oregon continental margin to determine the distribution and concentration of gas hydrates in an accretionary ridge setting, investigate the mechanisms that transport methane and other gases into the gas hydrate stability zone, and obtain constraints on physical properties of gas

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Image shows burning gas hydrates

Burning Gas Hydrates

Natural gas from gas hydrates burning. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is the most common of the gases that form gas hydrate. In fact, the amount of natural gas within the world’s gas hydrate accumulations is estimated to greatly exceed the volume of all known conventional gas resources. Because of that potential, the USGS and academic, government, and

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