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Hydraulic Fracturing: Resources for Journalists

(Courtesy Kara Newhouse/flickr)
(Updated Feb. 12, 2019)    Earth Institute scientists can offer a wide range of expertise to journalists covering natural-gas production using hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking). This includes basics of energy exploration and extraction; rock mechanics; contaminants in underground water; manmade earthquakes; and economic/political questions surrounding the practice. Here is a brief guide. (Click on hyperlinks for individual contact info and background.)

 Roger N. Anderson, a petroleum geologist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and at Columbia’s engineering school, has used hydrofracking to measure rock properties in gas and oil reserves, and holds patents on several innovations to control the process. He can discuss the specifics of hydraulic fracturing, and energy exploration and extraction in general.

Marco Castaldi is an assistant professor at Columbia’s engineering school and at the Earth Engineering Center. He can discuss the basics of how natural gas forms underground, and the extraction and use of natural gas.

Steven Chillrud is a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory conducting water-quality tests related to fracking in New York and Pennsylvania.

Nicholas Christie-Blick is a geologist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He can discuss the geological formation, context and extent of gas-bearing shales that are currently the focus of exploration and extraction.

Upmanu Lall directs the Columbia Water Center and is professor of earth and environmental engineering. He can discuss groundwater issues in relation to hydraulic fracturing, including those related to basins supplying water to New York City.

Won-Young Kim, head of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory‘s  cooperative seismic network, can address the question of manmade earthquakes and disposal of fracking wastes underground. In January 2012, he and colleagues John Armbruster showed a probable link between injections and earthquakes in Ohio.

Heather Savage, a seismologist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, can discuss the mechanics of how rocks fracture under natural or artificial forces, how basic hydrofracking works, and the implications for manmade earthquakes. She is coauthor of a widely cited 2013 study suggesting that underground injection of wastes from oil extraction can cause earthquakes.

Martin Stute, a hydrologist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, can discuss the basics of underground water flow, and how it might potentially relate to drilling.

Tuncel Yegulalp is a professor of mining engineering at Columbia University’s engineering school. He can discuss the basic elements of how hydraulic fracturing works, and how it is used in the energy industry.

Richard Plunz is director of the Urban Design Lab, which published a 2009 report on hydrofracking in the upper Delaware River watershed. He can discuss issues related to the environmental and economic effects on local communities.

Beizhan Yan is a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory conducting groundwater testing related to fracking in New York and Pennsylvania.

More: Read coverage of hydraulic fracturing on our State of the Planet blog  

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