Mining and Fracking

Differences & Effects

Surface vs Subsurface Mining

Surface mining is generally mining that is done near the surface. Subsurface mining is done bellow ground level.

Surface Mining

Surface mining is used where the ore or material to be extracted is located fairly close to the surface. The overlying ground cover is removed, the material is mined, and the ground cover is ordinarily replaced.

Effects to the Environment

Bad mining practices can ignite coal fires, which can burn for decades, release fly ash and smoke laden with greenhouse gasses and toxic chemicals. Furthermore mining releases coal mine methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

When surface mining, the workers want to get deeper underground where all the good materials are. The workers form a way to get down safely that looks like a funnel.

Subsurface Mining

Subsurface mining is used where the material is in veins deep beneath the surface, or obstructed (by rock layers, water tables, or other strata) in a way that make surface access impractical. Early mines used existing caves, but technology has brought increasingly deep and complex drilling to reach veins of coal or metal ores.

Effects to the Environment

The remnants of subsurface mining is a threat to the environment. They release zinc, arsenic, cadmium, lead and other heavy metals into the air. These metals exposed to the elements can spread out as dust to water ways or infiltration to the aquifer. These compounds can poison the ground and kill plants. The streams or lakes around the site may become heavily infused with metals too. This causes fish to become contaminated and die.


Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

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Effects of Fracking

When Fracking is done some of the natural gases that they are searching for get into our drinking water. These gases can be toxic to people and animals. If the gases get into a lake it can infect everything in it, killing species and plant life. Fracking also uses tons and tons of water for such a little quantity.