The Scientific Environmental/energy Cross-cutting Underground Research (SECUREarth) is being formed to achieve timely solutions to critical national problems associated with the earth’s subsurface. The mission of SECUREarth is to ensure energy security and environmental protection by:
- Improving our understanding of subsurface processes applicable to predicting the behavior of — and enabling cost-effective, safe management and treatment of — contaminants in the subsurface, exploring for and producing fossil fuels, enabling more effective use of geothermal energy resources, developing strategies for subsurface carbon sequestration, predicting the subsurface fate of energy byproducts, and ensuring the reliable and safe disposal of nuclear waste.
- Developing new energy resources (such as gas hydrates).
To establish the consortium, we envision a multiyear effort: In the first year, we will define the initiative, the participants, and establish a steering committee; in the second (and most critical) year, we will define the crosscutting science behind the research agenda and writing proposals; and in the third year, we will commence research. The product of SECUREarth will be a significantly funded, sustained, nationally integrated program of subsurface science research supported by the science and engineering community, industry, policy-makers, regulators, end users, and other stakeholders. SECUREarth will redefine the ways that subsurface science research is conducted and, ultimately, how research leads to improvements in understanding and prediction. The research portfolio will be defined with an eye toward identifying and addressing critical scientific gaps. The theme of the research would center on removing scientific roadblocks that prevent us from having a more complete understanding of how fluids affect the physical, chemical, and biological dynamics in the earth and atmosphere, at a progression from nanoscale to field scale. Researchers would be drawn from U.S. national laboratories, universities, and industry, and contribute a wealth of interests and expertise.