Carolyn Ruppel, PhD

I lead the USGS Gas Hydrates Project, which is jointly funded by the Coastal-Marine Hazards and Resources Program and the Energy Resources Program. Project scientists in Woods Hole, Denver, Menlo Park, and Santa Cruz study natural methane hydrate.  Hydrate is a potential energy resource, has synergies with global climate, and may play a role in some marine geohazards.


My primary research focus is on the interaction between methane hydrates (and methane seeps) on one hand and the ocean-atmosphere system on the other.  I focus particularly on the US Atlantic and US Pacific margins, as well as Arctic Ocean margins (US Beaufort Sea and Svalbard). I also work on energy issues related to gas hydrates (including delineating their distribution in marine sediments; 2018 MATRIX seismic program on US Atlantic margin), the coexistence of permafrost (including subsea) and hydrates (Beaufort Sea), and reservoir properties of hydrate-bearing sediments.  As a side specialty, I assist with programmatic environmental compliance for USGS marine acoustics surveys.  During my career, I have also worked on marine heat flow data acquisition and analysis, other aspects of the hydrogeology of gas hydrate systems, and coastal zone hydrogeophysics (particularly tidal pumping, inductive EM data, and saline intrusion in surficial aquifers).  My earliest work focused on numerical modeling of large scale tectonic processes and associated particle tracking, continental rifting, and marine analogs for continental tectonic processes.  Google scholar page:


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., 1992, Geophysics and Geology (with Marcia McNutt)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.S., 1986, Earth sciences (with Leigh Royden and Kip Hodges)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, B.S., 1986, Earth sciences



2010-present: Chief, USGS Gas Hydrates Project

2006-present: Research Geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey

2006- present: Visiting Scientist, MIT, Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences

2003-2006: Program manager (faculty rotater), National Science Foundation, Ocean Sciences (MG&G and Ocean Drilling Program)

2000-2002: Coordinator, Georgia Tech Focused Research Program on Methane Hydrates

2000-2006: Associate Professor of Geophysics (tenured), Georgia Institute of Technology

1994-2000: Assistant Professor of Geophysics, Georgia Institute of Technology

1993: Postdoctoral Investigator, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (advisor: Von Herzen)

1992: Postdoctoral Scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (advisors: Lin, Von Herzen)



Writing Team, OSTP group for Section 4 of the Presidential Memorandum on Marine Mapping, 2019-2020

Member, Arctic Icebreaker Coordinating Committee (UNOLS), 2015-2020  (ex officio: 2020 - present)

Chief Scientist, 8 research cruises (3 Arctic), 2010-2019

Member, Advisory Board, University of Tromso, Centre of Excellence for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) 2014-present

Strategic Plan Committee, Coastal & Marine Geology Program, USGS, 2014-2019

Arctic subgroup (appointed CMGP representative), Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST), OSTP, 2015-16

Mentor, Graduate Women at MIT (GWAMIT), 2013-2016

USGS Technical lead, NSF-USGS Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Marine Seismics, 2008-2012

Lead proponent, IODP Pre-Proposal 797, Late Pleistocene to contemporary climate change on the Alaskan Beaufort Margin (ABM)

Lead organizer, Catching climate change in progress, circum-Arctic Ocean drilling workshop, December 2011 (sponsored by US Science Support Program for IODP)

Organizer and convener, USGS-DOE Climate-Hydrates workshop, Boston, MA, March 2011

Originator and Chair, Gordon Research Conference on Natural Gas Hydrates, inaugural conference held June 2010.

Interagency Technical Coordinating Committee, DOE Methane Hydrates R&D Program, 2010-present

The Future of Natural Gas, MIT Energy Initiative, affiliated author (methane hydrates), 2008-2011

National Research Council, Scientific Ocean Drilling (SOD) review, presentation on Gas Hydrates and SOD, 2010

IODP Operations Task Force, 2008-2009

IODP Science Planning Committee (SPC), 2006-2009

Organizer, DOE-USGS Symposium/Meeting on Gas Hydrates and Climate Change (held at MIT), February 2008

Organizing Committee, NSF-sponsored workshop--The Future of Marine Heat Flow: A Workshop to Define U.S. Scientific Goals and Experimental Needs for the 21st Century, Sept. 2007

USGS representative to WHOI Postdoctoral Scholar Committee, 2007

DOE Federal Advisory Board for Methane Hydrates (FACA committee), 2001-2003

ODP U.S. Science Advisory Committee (USSAC), 2000-2003

AGU Publications Committee, 2002-2003

NSF Methane in Earth Systems History (MESH) program planning panel, 2002

NSF Ocean Carbon Cycle Panel(program planning), 2001-2002

ODP Hydrogeology Proposal Planning Group (PPG), liaison on gas hydrates, 2001-2002

ODP Gas Hydrates Proposal Planning Group (PPG), liaison from SSEP, 1998-99

ODP Science Steering and Evaluation Panel (SSEP Earth's Interior), 1997-1999

AGU Information Technology Committee, 1996-1998

AGU Spring Meeting Organizing Committee, Tectonophysics Section Chair, 1999

Co-organizer of AGU special sessions on gas hydrates: 1999, 2001, 2005 (Union)

Co-organizer of AGU special sessions on coastal hydrogeophysics: 1999, 2001, 2005

AGU Translations Board, 1994-1996



Co-Guest Associate Editor, Special Issue on the Reservoir Properties of Hydrate-Bearing Sediments, Journal of Geophysical Research, 2017-2019

Co-Editor, Special Volume on Nankai Gas Hydrates Drilling, Journal of Marine and Petroleum Geology, 2014-2015

Expert Reviewer, UN Environmental Programme report on methane hydrates, Volume 1, 2013-14

Lead editor, special volume, Marine & Petroleum Geology, DOE-JIP Gulf of Mexico gas hydrates drilling, 2006-2008

Hydrogeology Journal, editorial board, 2005-2007

Geology, editorial board, 2000-2003

Tectonics, Associate Editor, 1996-1999

Fiziki Zemli, oversight responsibility for AGU publication in translation, 1994-1996



National Science Foundation, Director's Award for Program Management, 2005 (Chixulub seismic program)

JOI/USSAC Distinguished Lecturer, Ocean Drilling Program, 1999-2000

Elected Geological Society of America (GSA) Fellow, 1999

Class of 1969 Teaching Fellow, Georgia Tech, 1994-1995

Postdoctoral scholar, WHOI, Geology & Geophysics, 1992



Arctic Methane Dynamics

U.S. Atlantic Margin Gas Hydrates and Methane Seeps

Natural Gas Hydrates - Processes and Properties