Geologists report five new truths about fracking. Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing, which is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock formations. The fracking process has been a controversial issue for years; however, geologists say some facts are not up for debates.
Fracking involves pumping a large amount of water, sand and fracking fluid deep beneath the earth’s surface to extract natural gas from the fissures it creates. The sand holds the fissures and the natural gas is released into the well. Geologist from University of Illinois, Dr. Steven Marshak, reported five facts on fracking:
1. Fracking fluid – Fracking fluid is made up chemicals. According to Marshak, probably chemicals like diesel fuel, antifreeze, soap, anything to make the fluid slipperier. “These things are not things you want to be dumping into drinking water.”
2. Pumped deep enough, it shouldn’t affect drinking sources – “The layer of black shale is down in the subsurface several thousand feet. If you can drill down to that level, the hydrofracturing cracks do not extend more than 1000 feet or so; the ends of the cracks are still going to be several thousand feet below the surface [where wells and aquifers sit].”
3. Natural processes cause natural gas to leak to the surface – “The image of turning on a water faucet and having natural gas leak out, in general those are situations where they have sunk their well into sandstone that has already filled with gas; that gas is naturally accumulating.”
4. Fracking process dos and don’ts – “There are some real problems. If the shale horizon is too close to surface…it probably shouldn’t be hydrofracked so you avoid contaminating water. You also need to make sure you’re inspecting well sites, that you don’t have middle of night dumping of excess fluid into streams, that retention pits are properly sealed.” Marshak said, the process could cause “measurable, but small earthquakes.”
5. The risks are not much different than shoreline drilling – “It’s worth looking more closely at it. My sense is, you end up with two sides that are pretty far apart and not really listening to each other. The public is overreacting to certain things, but there are other things the industry is underplaying.”