An official website of the United States government. Here's how you knowHere's how you know
Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.
Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.
Latest Earthquake | Chat Share
The CMHRP partners with the USGS Energy Resource Program (ERP) in the USGS Energy and Minerals Mission Area in studies of natural gas hydrates. Gas hydrate is a solid, ice-like form of water and gas (usually methane) that is widespread at the intermediate pressure and low temperature conditions that characterize deepwater continental margin sediments and sediments within and beneath continuous permafrost. Globally, methane hydrates may sequester about 15% of the carbon that can enter the ocean-atmosphere system. USGS gas hydrates research focuses on their potential as an energy resource, their interaction with the environment, and their connection to submarine slides and borehole instability.
As a highly concentrated form of methane (natural gas) that occurs at shallower depths beneath the seafloor or tundra than conventional gas deposits, gas hydrate may be a readily accessible energy resource. To investigate this resource potential, USGS scientists use geophysical data to identify hydrate-rich deposits, conduct laboratory experiments to determine how hydrate forms and breaks down in sediments, and participate in deep drilling and coring programs to directly sample and measure the reservoir. The ERP provides technical and operational leadership or advice for major hydrate-related marine and permafrost drilling programs conducted by the U.S. and international partners. The CMHRP's scientists lead pre-drilling marine site surveys, assess and prioritize drilling sites, and conduct laboratory analyses of recovered samples, particularly those held at in situ pressure to preserve the gas hydrate.
USGS involvement in future deep drilling programs on the Alaskan North Slope and in the Indian Ocean, northern Gulf of Mexico, and other deepwater marine settings will advance understanding of the distribution, saturation, and resource potential of gas hydrates. The Alaskan drilling program is expected to lead to a research-scale, year-long production test to validate methods for deriving gas from methane hydrates.
The CMHRP makes numerous direct contributions to gas hydrate energy resource studies. CMHRP researchers lead the acquisition of marine seismic data to delineate the distribution of gas hydrates on U.S. margins and have managed site selection for northern Gulf of Mexico gas hydrates drilling. For decades, CMHRP scientists have been among the leaders in the measurement of physical and geotechnical properties of hydrate-bearing sediments from marine and permafrost areas. This work has contributed to a better understanding of gas hydrate reservoirs and has helped to refine models of sediment response during methane production.
The CMHRP also advances gas hydrate energy resource studies using a state-of-the-art facility equipped with special tools to measure the properties of hydrate-bearing sediments in pressure cores, which are cores that have been maintained at their original seafloor pressure throughout recovery, transport, and analysis. Benchtop testing in this facility measures the amount of methane released from hydrate-bearing sediment cores during warming and depressurization. The CMHRP also has facilities to conduct advanced chemical analyses of gas and pore water samples collected during hydrate energy resource studies.
Explore the CMHRP Decadal Strategic Plan geonarrative, and learn about gas hydrate and the environment
This geonarrative constitutes the Decadal Strategic Plan of the USGS's Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program for 2020 to 2030.