Net-zero geoscience: Challenges, Opportunities, and Controversies

Dr. Nick Hayman
Director of Oklahoma Geological Survey
Host: Dr. Jessica Whiteside

Friday, March 29, 2024
2:30 pm – CSL 422
watch Nick’s talk


Net-zero geoscience is the use of the subsurface, and potentially environments such as the critical zone and pelagic regions of the oceans, to actively offset carbon dioxide emissions. Well articulated by the Princeton Net-Zero America Project, and put in action via (primarily) the Inflation Reduction Act, we are now confronted with a generational investment into energy sciences, but asked to deploy quickly to achieve near-term goals. By the same token, there is a competition of ideas between a true energy transition, which should prioritize infrastructure, vs. net-zero, which prioritizes areas such as carbon capture and storage, “green” hydrogen fuel, and a more resilient supply chain for the E/V fleet. Suddenly, geoscientists are confronted with what is to some a terrifying prospect: having to work with engineers, social scientists, and resource geographers, amongst others. In this talk I will attempt to show where there are some interesting science challenges and roads for success. One of the key technical examples will be Oklahoma’s challenges with subsurface fluid pressures and induced seismicity, but we will also discuss this in the context of the geological system in which we all live.


Nicholas W. Hayman became the Director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey in July 2020. He has a background in science management courtesy of his time at the National Science Foundation and a research science career mostly at the University of Texas, Austin, Institute for Geophysics. Prior to UT, Dr. Hayman was a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Duke University, Earth and Ocean Sciences after a Ph.D. from University of Washington, having started out learning Geology at SUNY Albany. Aside from the focus on energy geosciences as Oklahoma State Geologist, his primary research focus has been the many ways that deformation impacts the crust and upper mantle of the earth, from scales as small as nano-pores, to as large as active plate boundaries.