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Super Fracking and Physics

5 Aug 2014, 17:17 UTC
Super Fracking and Physics
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The cover story of the latest issue of Physics Today is part explanation, part discussion of the use of fracking techniques in the oil and natural gas industries in America. As this topic gained traction in the news and online, I was always admittedly ignorant when it came to the actual science and details of these methods. I vaguely knew that fracking could be seen as beneficial in that many US power plants now burn cleaner natural gas instead of coal, but it also seemed obvious that pumping high pressure liquid (which isn’t pure water) into the ground was bound to cause other environmental problems. Still, I neither consider myself strongly for nor against these practices, but I did greatly appreciate the explanations and discussions provided in this article. Below I’ll highlight the parts I found interesting, but I do recommend that the interested reader take a look at the article.
Fractures in siltstone and black shale in the Utica shale, near Fort Plain, New York. (Photograph by Michael C. Rygel.)
The article begins with an explanation of black shale itself. At left is a picture of some black shale, part of the Utica shale in upstate New York. So ...

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