DOE/NETL Methane Hydrate Projects
Hydrate-Bearing Clayey Sediments: Morphology, Physical Properties, Production and Engineering/Geological Implications Last Reviewed 12/30/2013


The primary goal of this research effort is to contribute to an in-depth understanding of hydrate bearing, fine-grained sediments with a focus on investigation of their potential for hydrate-based gas production.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation, Atlanta GA

Fine-grained sediments host more than 90 percent of global gas hydrate accumulation. Yet hydrate formation in clay-dominated sediments is less understood and characterized than other types of hydrate occurrence. There is an inadequate understanding of hydrate formation mechanisms, segregation structures, hydrate-lense topology, system connectivity, and physical macro-scale properties of clay-dominated hydrate-bearing sediments. This situation hinders further analyses of the global carbon budget as well as engineering challenges/solutions related to hydrate instability and production.

Research on hydrate-bearing clay-dominated sediments is needed to enhance fundamental understanding of hydrate formation and resulting morphology, develop laboratory techniques to emulate “natural” hydrate formations in this type of material, develop and assess analytical tools to predict physical properties, evaluate engineering and geological implications, and advance understanding of the potential for gas production from these sediments.

The project will add significant data and knowledge to the body of hydrates science. An enhanced understanding of the occurrence and behavior of hydrates in clay-dominated sediments will inform discussions of both the role of hydrates in the global carbon cycle and the potential feasibility of production from a portion of the hydrate resource base not currently considered producible.


  • Completed initial training of two new graduate students who will be working on the project
  • Completed literature review of analyses focused on hydrate morphology in fine-grained sediment and phase boundary conditions for stable/efficient hydrate exchange
  • Initiated study on gas replacement as a potential production mechanism to reduce reservoir deformation and closure in fine-grained systems

Current Status (December 2013)
Activities over the next project quarter will be focused on optimization of the new the X-ray CT system and scanning procedure; design and construction of a new X-ray CT compatible chamber for hydrate formation in clay; additional analysis of hydrate lens morphology and topology using THF hydrate, and performance of initial CO2-CH4 hydrate replacement trials in clay-rich sediments.

Project Start: October 1, 2012
Project End: September 30, 2016

Project Cost Information:
Planned Total Funding: $810,167
DOE Contribution: $627,393
Cost Share Contribution: $182,774

Contact Information:
NETL – Richard Baker ( or 304-285-4714)
Georgia Tech – Carlos Santamarina (

Additional Information

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-2.24MB] October - December, 2013

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-1.08MB] July - September, 2013

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-899KB] April - June, 2013

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-1.13MB] January - March, 2013

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-1.13MB] October - December, 2012

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