Addressing the Environmental Impacts of Fracking

Dan Soeder, director of the Energy Resources Initiative at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, co-authored an article titled “When Oil And Water Mix: Understanding The Environmental Impacts Of Shale Development,” in the September 2018 issue of GSA Today, a magazine published by the Geological Society of America.

The article explores what is known and not known about the environmental risks of fracking with the intent of fostering informed discussions within the geoscience community on the topic of hydraulic fracturing. Soeder’s co-author is Douglas B. Kent of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

In this paper, Soeder and Kent bridge the gap in consensus regarding fracking, providing current information about the environmental impacts of shale development. The article is open access and adheres to science and policy, presenting a complicated and controversial topic in a manner more easily understood by the lay person.

“Geoscientists from dinosaur experts to the people studying the surface of Mars are often asked by the public to weigh-in with their opinions on fracking. We wanted the broader geoscience community to be aware of what is known and not known about the impacts of this technology on air, water, ecosystems and human health. A great deal has been learned in the past decade, but there are still critical unknowns where we don’t yet have answers,” Soeder said.

In the article, Soeder and Kent address the various potential impacts of fracking and how those impacts are being addressed.

Bringing together experts in regional energy issues, Soeder and ERI will also host the New Horizons Energy Conference Oct. 25-26, at the Surbeck Center on the campus of SD Mines. The conference is focused on energy issues in the northern Rocky Mountain basins, including oil and gas, geothermal energy, and energy and the environment.

“We are bringing some of this interesting research to Rapid City,” Soeder said. ”My co-author, Dr. Doug Kent, will be presenting his results on water contamination from fracking fluids at the New Horizons Energy Conference, along with some other USGS scientists who are looking at the chemistry and transport of compounds associated with fracking.”

The first day of the New Horizons Energy Conference includes a full day of technical presentations and student posters, a panel discussion on energy policy followed by a reception at Paleontology Research Laboratory at SD Mines. The second day of the conference includes field trips to the Sanford Underground Research Facility and into the Black Hills National Forest to view stratigraphy and structure of the Northern Black Hills. A short course from the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council will also be offered.

To register for the conference, click here.

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