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Duke prof hosts webcast on 'fracking'

Posted September 15, 2011

Duke University takes on the controversial natural gas extraction process known as "fracking" Thursday in a live web chat. Robert Jackson, a professor of Biology and a geochemist will explain his research into the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing beginning at noon.

"Fracking" forces high-pressure liquids into underground rock to break it up and release natural gas and oil. It has proven to be a source of previously unavailable domestic energy, and property owners have profited.

But Jackson's work has shown that the liquids used in fracking and the by-products of the process have the potential to contaminate groundwater. Jackson and his colleagues at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment found methane contamination in well water near shale-gas drilling and hydrofracking sites.

Jackson is the Nicholas Chair of Global Environmental Change at Duke. 

To ask a question during the webcast, send an email to live@duke.edu or tweet with the tag #dukelive.

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  • blueridgesoul Sep 15, 2011

    Let's try this: When you have an AGENDA to promote something (a.k.a. fossil fuels), you can develop theories to support your argument.

    Isn't that right, oil companies (who made $$BILLIONS$$) from their THEORY of "Man Didn't Make Global Warming." The earth is getting warmer, just like 30 years ago it was colder. If it does get colder or warmer, it is not because we did anything, which means that we can't do anything about it.

    You see, whether you conservatives want to acknowledge it or not, there is a GOD who created the earth billions of years ago.

    Of course, when you don't believe in heaven (a better life after this one), then you have to create your own earthly heaven here on earth by means of DESTROYING Earth to create riches that moths and rust can destroy. You forget that God called us to be GOOD STEWARDS OF THE RICHES OF CREATION. God gave us an Eden, but ever sense Genesis, we have been disobying God about how to use Eden...and so we already know how the story ends.

  • geosol Sep 15, 2011

    So far, the Duke researchers haven't found any evidence of the actual fracking fluids contaminating the groundwater (which is good), but they DID find evidence that it mobilized methane into some folks' wells. The fracking fluids are becoming less toxic due to pressure from the states and EPA - another good thing. We now know that well construction - both injection wells and the water supply wells - plays a big role in preventing contamination. I think that this can be done safely, but not completely without risk. We must decide as the body politic just how much risk we're willing to tolerate.

  • geosol Sep 15, 2011

    How many little tea party whackos actually WATCHED the interview with Dr. Jackson and have a valid scientific counter to any of his findings? We're tired of the same old "we hate everything to do with science" nonsense that keeps getting posted.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Sep 15, 2011

    I guess the pro-fracking people like cancer-causing agents in their water? What other explanation can there be? Hmmm...maybe it's like the smokers who don't believe that tobacco causes cancer? (shrug)

    Can you do this with YOUR water? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U01EK76Sy4A

  • TAGS Sep 15, 2011

    When you have an AGENDA to get rid of something (a.k.a. fossil fuels), you can develop theories to support your argument.

    Isn't that right, Al Gore (who made $$BILLIONS$$) from his THEORY of "Man Made Global Warming." The earth is getting warmer, just like 30 years ago it was colder. If it does get colder or warmer, it is not because we did anything, which means that we can't do anything about it.

    You see, whether you liberals want to acknowledge it or not, there is a GOD who put these things in motion thousands of years ago.

    Of course, when you don't believe in heaven (a better life after this one), then you have to create your own earthly heaven here on earth by means of GREEN Earth and Mother Earth.

  • Blaster Sep 15, 2011

    Reasons why no jobs and can no longer compete with China:
    Duke Univ.(fill in any university/environmental group of choice) explains why proposed industry:

  • redspringssean Sep 15, 2011

    It would be interesting to know how close the contaminated well mentioned in the story is to the area where the fracking is being performed. If a little bit of common sense were used to determine where the water wells were beforehand it would seem that potential drinking water impacts could be avoided since ground water doesn't generally flow uphill. Of course the fact that they mention methane gas as the contaminant could complicate this picture a bit but I still think applying some rational thought to this situation could greatly reduce any potential problems that might arise.

  • fishon Sep 15, 2011

    few times it has it was because of problems with sealing the well, not with the fractured rock.
    jeffdewitt
    September 15, 2011 10:21 a.m.
    Ignore Report abuse

    I believe you are correct. The well is drilled, casing (pipe) is set and cemented in place. The casing is then perforated with shaped charges, making small holes in the pipe, the cement, and the formation to maybe 12 inches or so. Fracking entails pressurized liquid carying propping agents (sand?) that propagates into the formation causing fractures in the rock. When the pressure comes off the liquid comes partially back and the propping agent holds the fractures open, allowing more surface area for the hydrocarbons to enter the well.
    The problem occurs when there is a poor or insufficient cement job that allows channeling between pipe and formation and the fracking materials go to the WRONG formation, possibly an underground freshwater aquifer... drinking water!

  • justincaseur2 Sep 15, 2011

    You wouldn't let someone pour engine coolant in your drinking water. Why would anyone think that what the "Fracking" process does is any safer??? There is a reason that those chemicals are exempted from EPA reporting and it isn't because they are safe for humans or other living things. Out of sight/out of mind does not = safe or healthy. Think smarter and more long term people. I don't know about you but a few dollars of cheap energy today isn't worth the health problems it's going to cause my children later. Imagine, you go to start a family and you find out that the chemicals in the water have given your child a cognitive impairment or physical deformity but you can't prove it's because of "Fracking" because they have blanket immunity from telling you what they are pumping into the ground. It's really not worth the risk.

  • nomorethanthat Sep 15, 2011

    When the driller sinks the shaft and then begins the fracking process, do those in charge absolutely know that an upward fracture in the rock connects with the below ground area fracked or do they exercise due diligence to recognize it if it develops? This fracture could be a pipeline into the drinking water aquifer above

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