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Planning Meeting in Woods Hole, MA, on USGS Gas-Hydrates Research

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Participants in the USGS Gas Hydrates Planning Meeting
Participants in the USGS Gas Hydrates Planning Meeting take advantage of the clear fall weather for a group photograph outside of the Carriage House, Woods Hole. From left to right, front row: Dave Mason (Woods Hole [WH]), Bill Winters (WH), Keith Kvenvolden (Menlo Park [MP]), Myung Lee (Denver), Brandon Dugan (new USGS Mendenhall Fellow, from Penn State), Emrys Jones (Chevron/Texaco), Pat Hart (MP), Tim Collett (Denver), I-Ming Chou (Reston, VA), Warren Wood (NRL), Dawn Lavoie (Reston), Frances Pierce (Reston); back row: Bill Waite (WH), Steve Kirby (MP), Alexei Milkov (WHOI), Dave Scholl (USGS emeritus), John Bratton (WH), Brad Tomer (DOE), Tom Lorenson (MP), Dave Twichell (WH), Bill Dillon (USGS emeritus), Barbara Moore (NOAA), Jean Whelan (WHOI), Bill Gwilliam (DOE), and Jesse Hunt (MMS). Missing are Debbie Hutchinson (WH, the photographer) and VeeAnn Cross (WH).
Before the dust had a chance to settle from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Director Chip Groat's visit to the USGS center in Woods Hole, MA, members and others interested in the USGS Gas Hydrates Project came from across the country to gather in Woods Hole and look to the future of USGS gas-hydrates research.

This retrospective and prospective exercise was prompted by the retirements last January of two senior leaders in the project, Bill Dillon of Woods Hole and Alan Cooper of Menlo Park, CA. The meeting, held November 20-22, was convened by Debbie Hutchinson and Tim Collett, project chiefs for the USGS Gas Hydrates Project. The 27 participants included eight representatives from outside the USGS (Minerals Management Service [MMS], the U.S. Department of Energy [DOE], the Naval Research Laboratory [NRL], the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], Chevron-Texaco, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution [WHOI]), two representatives from the USGS funding programs (Energy Resources Program and Coastal and Marine Geology Program), two emeritus scientists, 14 project members, and a soon-to-be-hired Mendenhall postdoctoral fellow.

On the first day of the meeting, November 20, the group listened to various participants' perspectives on gas-hydrates research. After a charge to the group (by Debbie Hutchinson) to focus on how individual USGS pieces fit the big picture of gas-hydrates research, Dawn Lavoie and Frances Pierce opened the presentations with the goals and realities of USGS program support. The rest of the morning was given to perspectives from various stakeholders and collaborators, such as Jess Hunt speaking of MMS' environmental and assessment interests, Brad Tomer speaking of DOE's goals and expectations, Warren Wood speaking of the NRL's program and its relation to USGS research, Barbara Moore discussing NOAA's focus on hydrate mounds and associated biological communities, and Emrys Jones speaking of the Gulf of Mexico Joint Industry Program. Jean Whelan and Alexei Milkov (both of WHOI) kept all presenters on their toes with penetrating questions and discussion points. The day ended with 14 short USGS presentations in which researchers highlighted key accomplishments and their significance to gas-hydrate science. The outcome of this first day was to bring everyone to a common level of understanding of each other's work and goals.

The second day of the meeting was for USGS-only participants and consisted of discussions aimed at defining a gas-hydrates-research agenda for the next 5 to 10 years. Many of the discussions focused on building closer links between laboratory and field experiments, and between laboratory and modeling experiments. We also discussed the development of conceptual models and the subsequent development of numerical models for understanding both the behavior of gas hydrates in sediment and the dynamic evolution of gas-water-sediment systems. Both Debbie and Tim have their work cut out for them in developing, reviewing, and implementing a plan.

Related Web Sites
Gas Hydrate Studies
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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