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What is fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) is a method used to extract fossil fuels (either gas or oil) through drilling vertically or horizontally and subsequently pressurizing the well bore to create fissures in the rock formation, allowing accumulated gas or oil to seep back up the well once the pressure is released at the well head. Millions of gallons of water (about 3-4 million gallons per well) are injected along with microscopic sand, and specialized chemical fluids which together work their way into the fractured geology to reach the oil and gas in the formation. The sand (or quartz powder) which is especially produced for fracking, helps wedge open cracks in the rock achieved through extremely high pressure, allowing the gas or oil to exit. These fissure or cracks can be a few hundred meters in length and can reach several tens of meters in height. The propagation of cracks is monitored by seismo‐acoustic techniques and can be controlled by variation of water pressure. The chemicals, many of which are proprietary according to the company utilizing them, are used to assist the injection process into the cracks and are also utilized in processing and conservation of the extracted fluid. Fracking is a highly contentious industrial activity due to the large amounts of freshwater utilized in the process which is contaminated in the process, due to the risks of contamination of the underground geology and the surface and atmospheric environments at fracking locations, and due to the impacts to climate and human health caused by fossil fuel emissions related to the procedure.

Map of shale basins in Argentina:

Boyer et al. 2011

More Information:

Fracking (Pro Publica – Public Interest Journalism)

Is Fracking Safe? Top Ten Myths About Natural Gas Drilling (Popular Mechanics)

Fracking Florida


Argentinian Laws governing hydrocarbons

Ley 17.319

Ley 26.197

Ley 26.741


Related Groups

In the Media

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