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International Cooperation in Methane Hydrates

In 1982 the multi-national Deep Sea Drilling Program (DSDP) recovered the first subsea substantial methane hydrate deposits, which spurred methane hydrate research in the US and other countries.  The successor programs, the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) sampled hydrate deposits off Oregon (ODP 204, 2002) and in the Cascadia Margin off Vancouver Island, Canada (ODP 146, 1992 and IODP 311, 2005).  In the Atlantic Ocean off the US, ODP Leg 146 sampled hydrate deposits on the Blake Ridge and Carolina Rise in 1995.  

International cooperation helps scientists in the US and other countries expand their understanding of the variety of naturally occurring methane hydrate deposits and develop expertise in sampling and measurement techniques.  Although methane hydrate deposits are inferred to exist on all continental shelves, only a few sites have been drilled and logged or cored, which makes this information valuable to all scientists. DOE is participating as a steering committee member in a global assessment of methane hydrates in the natural environment, led by the United Nations Environment Programme.  Information on the assessment is available at http://www.methanegashydrates.org.

Because of the broad level of international cooperation, information is available on research programs and sampling expeditions for Canada, India, China, Japan, and Korea. Additional information about specific international methane hydrate research expeditions is available in numerous articles in the newsletter, Fire in the Ice.