An Intro To Shales & Fracking (2016)

Utica Shale, New York State (Photo by Michael C. Rygel, from Wikimedia Commons:

Utica Shale, New York State (Photo by Michael C. Rygel, from Wikimedia Commons:

The lecture slides for my York Lifelong Learning class on Shales & Fracking can be downloaded here: 2016_intro_shalesfracking_sml

Most of the references I discussed can be found on the website for the 2015 version of this site, here.

The new British Geological Survey appraisal of the shale gas/shale oil potential of the Wessex Basin (Oct 2016) can be found here.

The new ReFINE study (Dec 2016) on how much methane is escaping through natural fault zones in the UK can be read here.

Last but not least, a new study I have been involved with, trying to understand how climate change in the Jurassic led to the formation of organic-rich shales, can be read here. A less technical article on the study can be found here.


An Introduction to Shales and Fracking


Upper Jurassic clay- and carbonate-rich black shales, Kimmeridge, Dorset.

The slides from my York Lifelong Learning presentation on Dec. 12th can be downloaded here as a PowerPoint file: 2015_Intro_ShalesFracking_SML.

Useful links

UK & Europe

ReFINE: Researching Fracking. ReFINE is the leading international fracking research consortium, led jointly by Newcastle University and Durham University. The website includes all the group’s scientific papers, research briefs, and newsletters.

Shale Gas – British Geological Survey website with lots of information about their fracking research activities. The BGS is also building up baseline data on UK groundwater methane.

From national to fracktional: will fracking come to Britain’s national parks? A policy briefing I wrote for the Durham Energy Institute.

Whatever Happened to the Great European Fracking Boom? An article I wrote for The Conversation.

North America

US Environmental Protection Agency report on fracking and its potential impacts on drinking water resources. Scientific papers published by the EPA for this report can be viewed here.

US Energy Information Administration (EIA) – World Shale Resource Assessments.

FracFocus – US fracking chemical disclosure registry.

US Geological Survey oil shale research.

Mud & Shales

Indiana University Shale Research Lab, led by Dr Jurgen Schieber, who conducts a lot of very interesting research into how shales form.

More Gaps Than Shale, a paper by João Trabucho-Alexandre on how mudstones form, and how complete mudstone successions are. With perhaps the best abstract in a geological paper: “Ths wht th fn-grnd mrine sdmtry rcrd rlly lks like.”

The 2015 global census of sea floor sediments, by Adriana Dutkiewicz and colleagues, shows just how fine-grained the oceans are. You can explore the globe in their amazing, interactive 3-D model!

The Scale of the Universe – if you’ve ever wondered just how small a clay particle (or pretty much anything else, for that matter) Scale of the Universe is an amazing website to explore.

Of Fossils And Fracking – further reading


Further to the talk I gave on UK shale gas at the University of York, here are some links that might be of interest.

TNO, the Dutch geological survey, has issued a “European Shale Gas Argument Map” addressing the pros and cons. You can find it here.

Shale Gas, the Basics, by the British Geological Survey can be found here.

An excellent history of UK shale gas, written by Professor Dick Selley, can be found as a pdf here.

The head of shale gas at the British Geological Survey, Prof. Mike Stephenson, gave a talk called Fact, Fiction and Fracking, which has been turned into a very entertaining animated video. It can be found here.

SHIP: the Shale Gas Information Platform, run through Potsdam University in Germany, can be found here. They also run the more research-intensive GASH (Gas Shales in Europe) website.

The Marcellus Shale is one of the biggest shale gas plays in the US. An excellent public service website called Explore Shale has been produced about the Marcellus and the process of shale gas production. It can be found here.

Shale Gas Europe, a European resource centre for shale news and information, can be found here.

The website of the Durham University initiative ReFINE (Researching Fracking In Europe) can be found here.

The current status of the UK National Grid can be found at Gridwatch.

Further links will be added over time, so please do check back for updates.