Instead of asking why sinkholes are opening up everywhere at the same time as fracking (hydraulic fracturing for natural gas) is taking off across the United States, all people can talk about are the “eight ‘vettes” at the National Corvette Museum that were swallowed by the earth.
Eight valuable ‘vettes at Bowling Green, Kentucky’s National Corvette Museum fell victim to a 40-foot-wide, 20-foot-deep sinkhole that opened up in the facility’s yellow Sky Dome wing. The museum unofficially estimates it caused millions of dollars in damage.
Motion detectors alerted security that something was amiss shortly after 5:30 a.m., said museum spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli. An employee who first walked into the room “has been in shock all day,” she said.
“When you go in there, it’s unreal,” said Frassinelli. “The hole is so big, it makes the Corvettes look like little Matchbox cars.”
The news triggered a collective worldwide gasp from the Corvette Nation.
“I was shocked,” said Frazer Bharucha, 47, a Corvette owner since age 17. “We’re talking about iconic cars that have been around for years.”
I’m talking about underground rock formations that have been around for millions of years!
According to the Kentucky Waterways Alliance:
Fracking is dependent upon the existence of shale. This is a map of the geologic shale formations in the United States, and more specifically the Appalachian region.
As seen in the above map, the predominant American shale play is in the Appalachian Basin and is called the Devonian (because that is the period of time it originates from).
The Devoanian shale strata stretches into Eastern Kentucky. The map below shows that the thickness of this shale layer decreases as it moves west into Kentucky.
But the shale layers in Kentucky are still capable of producing high amounts of natural gas.
The Devonian strata is further divided into sublayers. The predominant focus area of the Devonian shale layer within Kentucky is the Big Sandy assessment unit.
Located in the Appalachian Basin, the Devonian Big Sandy shale gas play extends through Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. Big Sandy ranges from 1,600 to 6,000 feet deep and has a thickness of 50 to 300 feet.
Shale gas production was first discovered in Kentucky in 1892 with the drilling of wells along Beaver Creek in Floyd county. When hydraulic fracturing was introduced in Kentucky in the 1960s, it was used to complete Devonian Ohio shale wells in eastern Kentucky as an alternative to explosive fracturing which had been used since the 1880s. The Devonian Big Sandy shale rock has exhibited the following characteristics; sequence of black and gray shales, low permeability, low porosity, high water sensitivity, sufficiently brittle, and high proportion of natural fractures. The clays in the shale absorbed water and swelled, however, making hydraulic fracturing not a particularly successful technique. Due to these characteristics, nitrogen fracturing has been the most commonly used well stimulation method since 1978, and it was being used pretty much exclusively in the shales of eastern Kentucky with the core area being the Big Sandy gas field in Floyd, Knott, Letcher, Martin, and Pike Counties.
A few hydraulic fracture stimulations were still used in the Big Lime reservoirs above the shale. In 2007, when a fracking company began drilling horizontal wells in the Ohio shale in eastern Kentucky, they experimented with foam nitrogen fracs because that type of treatment could transport the sand proppant much better than the straight nitrogen. Small (roughly 120,000 gallons or so) amounts of water with a few hundred gallons of HCl (muriatic acid) are mixed with nitrogen to create a foam.
In addition to the shale wells that are foam fracked, small volume (up to 250,000 gallons of water) hydraulic fracture stimulations (not foam fracs) are being conducted in horizontal wells in the Berea formation in Lawrence and Greenup Counties. These Berea wells are shallower than the typical Devonian shale well and it’s likely difficult to develop enough pressure downhole with nitrogen to induce fracturing. And, in Breckinridge and Hancock Counties, western Kentucky, smaller volume (up to 20,000 gallons of water) are being used in hydraulic fracs in the New Albany Shale.
Today, there are an estimated 6,000 shale gas wells producing between 50 and 70 billion cubic feet of gas annually in Kentucky. Many of those wells are located in the Big Sandy gas field.
So we know there is a lot of fracking happening in Kentucky but we wanted to know what kind was occurring where. KWA inquired to the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas about where nitrogen and hydraulic fracturing occur across the state. KWA was told that the information could be found on the well log and completion report for each well. However, the KY Division of Oil and Gas does not record the difference between fracking processes when permitting. And neither they nor the Kentucky Geological Survey have the staff or funding to capture that information into an electronic database.
It would be of great service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky if funding could be secured for a study of fracking in Kentucky!
As we can see from the sinkhole in Louisiana, sinkholes are a dangerous byproduct of oil and natural gas industries in the U.S.
With the location of the sinkhole being so close to Mammoth National Park – and even some of the museum damaged from the geologic event – it makes one wonder what’s going on beneath Kentucky and Louisiana, and whether or natural structures are really being kept “safe” by the UN’s “Conservationist” (aka, tyrannical and land-grabbing) policies.
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