ERL was founded in 1982 by Professor M. Nafi Toksöz, who was the director until 1999. During this period the Lab, which was then housed in E34, focused on reservoir characterization and borehole science and was funded through a Founding Member and a Borehole Consortium. During Professor John Grotzinger’s directorship, from 2000-2003, ERL began expanding its expertise by engaging more faculty from the departments of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), and Mathematics, a trend that continued under Professor Robert van der Hilst’s leadership (2004-2011). In 2008, ERL joined the main geophysics and geology programs in the Green building (building 54), a move that inspired broad participation from EAPS faculty and which improved the exposure of ERL students to a broader spectrum of the Earth Sciences and introduced other EAPS students to the challenging problems of today’s subsurface energy research. In 2008 the Borehole Consortium was discontinued and its activities merged with the general research scope within a single Founding Member Consortium. In 2011, Professor Bradford Hager took over as Director of ERL. During his leadership, ERL continues to work on multi-disciplinary sub-surface research in collaboration with researchers in CEE, Mathematics. Professor Hager has also increased our collaboration with the MIT Energy Initiative.

Since 1982, ERL has produced more than 100 students, most of whom now fulfill leadership positions in energy companies or academia, both in the United States and abroad.