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Selected Water-Quality Topics > Hydraulic Fracturing
Generalized image showing the key points in hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas development where water is part of the process. (Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
Hydraulic fracturing (informally known as hydrofracking, fracking, fracing, or hydrofracturing) is a process that typically involves injecting water, sand, and (or) chemicals under high pressure into a bedrock formation via a well. This process is intended to create new fractures in the rock as well as increase the size, extent, and connectivity of existing fractures.
Hydraulic fracturing is a well-stimulation technique used commonly in low-permeability rocks like tight sandstone, shale, and some coal beds to increase oil and/or gas flow to a well from petroleum-bearing rock formations. A similar technique is used to create improved permeability in underground geothermal reservoirs. A form of hydraulic fracturing is also used in low permeability sediments and other tight subsurface formations to increase the efficiency of soil vapor extraction and other technologies used in remediating contaminated sites.
The links below focus on USGS activities to study and monitor potential impacts from hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas development on water quality.
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