Fracking is a popular term referring to hydraulic fracturing when it is used to extract hydrocarbons. We distinguish between low-volume traditional fracking and the high-volume modern fracking used to recover large volumes of hydrocarbons from shales. Shales are fine-grained rocks with low granular permeabilities. During the formation of oil and gas, large fluid pressures are generated. These pressures result in natural fracking, and the resulting fracture permeability allows oil and gas to escape, reducing the fluid pressures. These fractures may subsequently be sealed by mineral deposition, resulting in tight shale formations. The objective of modern fracking is to reopen these fractures and/or create new fractures on a wide range of scales. Modern fracking has had a major impact on the availability of oil and gas globally; however, there are serious environmental objections to modern fracking, which should be weighed carefully against its benefits.


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