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.

Bodies of Evidence

Using fossils to examine the origins of animals

I am organizing the Palaeontological Association-sponsored session at the 2013 British Science Festival in Newcastle.

It is called Bodies of Evidence, will run at the Great North Museum on Sunday September 9th, and it is going to be dead great. Literally, as the event will be packed to the rafters with amazing fossils of long-gone creatures.

How do we figure out the origins of animals? What do fossils tell us about the way in which animals evolved different features, such as shells and teeth? And how can we reconstruct what ancient, extinct animals really looked like? Come along to Bodies Of Evidence and we’ll show you!

To whet your appetite, here’s a little taster of the bodies that will be on offer…

Starting with the Cambrian explosion, my palaeontological colleagues from Durham University will take you to Greenland, and the amazing Sirius Passet fossils:

(It's a halkieriid)

What in flippin’ crikey is that?

Professor Mark Purnell and his team from the University of Leicester will offer up some Rotten fish and fossils. If you’re feeling brave, they’ll even let you take a sniff and find out what their experiments smell like!

Progressive stages of decay in the lancelet.

Dr Martin Ruecklin (Leiden University/University of Bristol) will show off his amazing Jaws! Using Synchrotron x-rays he will delve into the origins of our lovely smiles…

Dunkleosteus terelli, an ancient fish much scarier than Jaws.

And as a special bonus, the brilliant model-maker Esben Horn of 10 Tons, Copenhagen, will be bringing along some Heavy Metal and Punk Fossils!

Palaeontology: the new rock and roll!

So come along and inspect our #BodiesOfEvidence on September 8th. You won’t see the fossil world the same way afterwards!