William F Waite, PhD

Bill Waite has spent his career being thrilled, confused, inspired and exasperated by gas hydrates – an educational relationship he began as a Stanford post-doc before shifting to the U.S. Geological Survey in 1999. He has moved from laboratory studies of physical properties of pure gas hydrates, to laboratory and field measurements of the physical properties of gas hydrate in sediment.

Biography

Education

Doctor of Philosophy and Masters of Science, Physics, University of Colorado: 1992-1998 Dissertation: A restricted meniscus motion model for wave attenuation in partially fluid-saturated porous rock, supervised by Prof. Hartmut Spetzler.

Bachelor of Arts, Physics (magna cum laude), Oberlin College: 1988-1992 Senior Thesis: Prediction and Measurement of Total Nuclear Reaction Cross Sections, supervised by Prof. Robert Warner.

Professional Position

Geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole, MA: 1999-Present
Leader of the Gas Hydrate Project’s Laboratory Program.  I coordinate research between the Woods Hole, MA and Menlo Park, CA laboratories in support of Gas Hydrate Project studies.  I lead or co-lead fundamental, applied and synthesis-level studies of gas hydrate, with a focus on physical property measurements in pure gas hydrate, gas-hydrate-bearing sediment, and gas-hydrate-bearing pressure cores. 

Publications

Google Scholar

ORCID

Research Interest

Gas hydrates are crystalline compounds formed when light “guest” molecules (such as methane) stabilizes cage-like structures in which water molecules enclose individual guest molecules. Gas hydrates are stable at reduced temperatures and elevated pressures that can be found on Earth in a variety of environments (primarily in marine continental slope sediment, and in sediments associated with permafrost). Their global distribution has helped create an international, multidisciplinary research community studying gas hydrate systems from biological, chemical, geological and geophysical perspectives. A wonderful consequence of the international interest has been in providing a rich, collaborative research experience that has significantly shaped and advanced my understanding of gas hydrate over the years.

Thanks to the U.S. Geological Survey’s long-term commitment to gas hydrate research , I have been able to spend 20+ years growing from my initial interest in pure gas hydrate physical properties to laboratory studies of gas hydrate in sediment, and now to ongoing field-based studies of naturally-occurring gas hydrate collected in pressure cores. Most of the USGS gas hydrate fieldwork I have been, and continue to be associated with, is focused on gas hydrate as an energy resource (additional information on those projects are accessible through the USGS Energy Program’s gas hydrate page.

I look forward to opportunities for connecting physical property investigations with interdisciplinary studies of microbiology and geochemistry as we continue to advance our natural-systems level appreciation of gas hydrate’s role not just as a potential energy resource, but as a dynamic element in natural processes.