Study: Fracking cracks beyond 600 meters unlikely

Many environmental groups have claimed that hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - contaminates groundwater but one recent study has found that the technique to extract unconventional gas can be done safely.

According to research published in the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology, fracking has well below a 1 percent chance of causing unintended cracks in the ground beyond 600 meters. The research was led by the U.K.'s Durham University and used data from hundreds of both natural fractures and fracking operations in Europe and the U.S.

This research may show that if operations are kept an adequate distance from aquifers that there is virtually no chance of groundwater contamination.

"The process itself is a bit of a red herring in terms of the chance of it causing aquifer contamination," report co-author Richard Davies told Bloomberg. "The earth is very good at limiting these things."

The researchers also found that the chance of unintentional fractures forming 350 meters from the sight was about 1 percent.

Fracking has played a large role in the U.S. becoming the leading natural gas producer on the planet.

More information on unconventional gas and oil exploration can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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