Fracking, An Energy Extraction Process

1534 WordsJul 27, 20157 Pages
INTRODUCTION Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is an energy extraction process that has recently been consumed in a lot of controversy regarding the possible side effects that it could be having on the environment. Specifically, fracking is a method used to extract and release natural gas and petroleum from under deep layers of hard rock called shale rock located thousands of feet under the Earth’s surface. This process has been around since the 1940’s and involves the injection of a fluid mixture that consists of 90 percent water, 9.5 percent sand, and 0.5 percent chemicals. (Cohen, 2011) In this high-pressured fluid injection, the fluid causes the deep shale rock to have tiny cracks, in which the natural gas trapped in…show more content…
This paper will address how hydraulic fracturing, fracking, is likely to directly or indirectly cause earthquakes in nearby areas surrounding the injection wells. DISCUSSION The theory behind hydraulic fracturing induced earthquakes is reasonable and deserves to be respected because it is developed under very sound principles. In fracking, where large amounts of fluids are injected into the Earth, the injected fluid creates a high-pressure gradient and facilitates a smoother movement for nearby faults to cause seismic activity. (Guest, 2015) With that being said, the amount of earthquakes with a magnitude of greater than three on the Richter scale in the U.S. midcontinent has been on a fairly consistent, linear increase since 1967. However, this trend experienced a noticeable change around 2001, in which the levels of seismic activity veered off course and showed to have a exponential increase compared to previous statistics. (Ellsworth, 2013) From this increase in activity, there is a lot of speculation and research that humans have induced the extra seismic activity. One of the activities in particular that is believed to have led to the induced activity, is the process described above known as hydraulic fracturing. Although the fracking process has been used for a very long time, it is currently being related to seismicity around well location as the number of earthquakes in these areas increases. For most
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