Hydraulic Fracturing

by John Aretakis and Jeremy Davidson

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The Process

  1. a shaft is driven several hundred meters deep into the earth
  2. a horizontal hole is drilled into the gas bearing layer of rock
  3. the fracking fluid is pumped into the ground using high performance pumps
  4. the fluid consists of several thousand tons of sand, 53,000 gallons of chemicals, and 2 million gallons of water (equals the average consumption of 65,000 people everyday)
  5. the mixture penetrates the rock layers and produces many cracks
  6. the sand prevents the cracks from closing again
  7. the chemicals compress the water, kill off bacteria, and dissolve minerals
  8. the fracking fluid is then pumped out, and the natural gas is recovered
  9. when the gas source has been exhausted, the drill hole is sealed
  10. the fracking fluid is then pumped back into deep underground layers and sealed in
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Marcellus Shale

  • marine sedimentary rock found in Northeastern America
  • 516 trillion cubic feet of shale in Northeastern America
  • 141 trillion cubic feet of that is profitable natural gas
  • about a mile deep into the earth
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Considerable Risks

  • fracking inevitably causes a contamination of fresh drinking water
  • it consumes large quantities of water and makes it toxic
  • the toxicity is so severe that the water cannot be cleaned in a treatment plant
  • many cases of contamination due to negligence have been reported
  • no long term studies have been performed on the progression of the water toxicity
  • chemicals used vary from hazardous to extremely toxic
  • companies that perform the fracking do not have to disclose which chemicals are used
  • release of greenhouses gases 25 times more potent than CO2 occurs
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  • natural gas is less harmful than coal when burned but the negative effects of keeping the climate in bale are greater
  • the fracking process requires an extremely large consumption of energy
  • the drilling holes are quickly exhausted so they must be drilled more frequently than conventional natural gas wells
  • 3% of the natural gas is lost in the extraction and escapes into the atmosphere
  • the long term consequences are unforeseeable

Demographics from 2012



  • deep, narrow hole made in the ground to locate water or oil
  • constructed for many different purposes, including the extraction of water, other liquids (such as petroleum) or gases (such as natural gas)


  • water based solution that flows back to the surface during and after the completion of hydraulic fracturing
  • consists of the fluid used to fracture the Marcellus shale
  • fluid contains clays, chemical additives, dissolved metal ions and total dissolved solids


  • a solid material, typically sand, treated sand or man-made ceramic materials, designed to keep an induced hydraulic fracture open, during or following a fracturing treatment
Fracking Explained In 45 Seconds

Works Cited

McDermott, Matt. "Facts On Fracking, Pros & Cons of Hydraulic Fracturing For Natural Gas (Infographic)." TreeHugger. 9 Sept. 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

"Marcellus Shale - Appalachian Basin Natural Gas Play." Marcellus Shale: Results Continue to Amaze Geologists. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

"USGS FAQs - Hydraulic Fracturing ("Fracking") - How Much Water Does the Typical Hydraulically Fractured Well Require?" USGS FAQs - Hydraulic Fracturing ("Fracking") - How Much Water Does the Typical Hydraulically Fractured Well Require? Web. 20 Oct. 2015.