March 2013 Science Under the Dome

Friday, March 1st at 7:00 PM Lawrence D. Lemke, Associate Professor of Geology and Director of the Environmental Science Program at Wayne State University presented:


What's all the Fracas about Fracking?

Assessing the Risks and Benefits of Unconventional Oil and Gas Development


      Professor Larry Lemke                 Christmas tree                         Drilling rig                              Separators

                                                                          WSU students on a field trip to an oil and gas field in West Texas.


Over the last decade, we have witnessed a remarkable transformation in the outlook for U.S. domestic gas and oil exploration and production.  The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”) have opened up new resources that have increased supply and lowered the price of natural gas, providing less expensive and cleaner alternatives to power generation from coal.  Nevertheless, environmental concerns involving groundwater, surface water, and air pollution associated with fracking are being raised with increasing fervor. 

In this presentation, we will review the basics of conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources, analyze the benefits and risks of hydraulic fracturing, and examine fracking in the context of local and global environmental issues.- Larry Lemke



The Wayne State Planetarium is dedicated to the promotion of science. We are proud to feature a series of free public lectures covering modern topics in science.