Welcome! The Earth Resources Laboratory (ERL) is MIT’s home for geophysical research driven by the sustainable use of the Earth for the energy demands of tomorrow. This includes modeling and monitoring for geological carbon sequestration, geothermal energy, the geological storage of hydrogen, and any hazard resulting from these activities such as induced seismicity.



The laboratory is composed of a dozen faculty members and their groups. Our expertise ties fundamental and experimental geophysics with computing, inference, and machine learning. ERL’s research is at the forefront of questions such as
  • how to design new ways of mapping the subsurface;
  • how to extract information from indirect, incomplete and/or corrupted data; 
  • how to leverage relevant but insufficient geophysical models; and 
  • how to quantify the uncertainty of our predictions.
All the application areas considered in ERL concern sustainable geophysics, i.e., subsurface technologies that have a role to play in the transition toward a fully decarbonized society. Some components of this transition do not involve geophysics in their design, such as the electrification of transportation and residential heating systems that have traditionally relied on oil and gas. Other components, less visible to the public eye but equally crucial in the environmental balance, lead to formidable unsolved technological challenges involving the Earth. For instance,
  • how to decarbonize the existing carbon-intensive chemical processes of steel and cement industries without disrupting supply;
  • how to quickly transition to a clean hydrogen economy without discarding the existing infrastructure for natural gas;
  • how to store energy on a massive scale and for long durations to cope with the intermittency of renewables;
  • how to harness the heat of the Earth in the form of geothermal energy.
The answers to these questions fundamentally involve geophysics, as they hinge on an understanding of how components like CO2 (for disposal), or water (for geothermal stimulation), or H2 (for energy storage) should be injected and stored in porous rock formations deep underground. These questions give a new meaning to what it means to be a geophysicist!

ERL’s sponsored projects are often interdisciplinary, and bring together complementary expertise from all over MIT. While ERL is primarily associated with the department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), some of its faculty members are afiilated with Civil and Environmental Engineering; Mathematics; and Aero-Astro.

Companies can join ERL as founding members to meet our students/postdocs, and get to know their research (see benefits of membership). We are continuously looking for talented people to join the lab (see our openings page). Stay in touch to learn about ERL's livestreams and other announcements:

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We welcome your feedback, and hope to see you soon at one of our events!

Laurent Demanet
Director, Earth Resources Laboratory