AP®︎/College Environmental science
Review your understanding of fossil and nuclear fuel extraction in this free article aligned to AP standards.
- There are two main methods for extracting energy fuels from the Earth: mining and drilling. Mining is used to extract solid fuels, such as coal and uranium. Drilling is used to extract gaseous or liquid fuels, such as natural gas and crude oil.
- Subsurface mining describes the process of extracting resources from deep underground, using tunnels and shafts to reach deposits. Subsurface mining can be dangerous for workers, and can also cause environmental problems such as cave-ins, fires, and contamination of nearby waterways.
- Surface mining describes the process of accessing and extracting resources by removing overlying soil and rock. This type of mining is often used when resources are located near the surface.
- Mountaintop removal is a type of surface mining in which explosives are used to blast away the top of a mountain in order to access a buried resource. This type of mining is destructive to the environment, generating large amounts of excess rock and soil which are often dumped into nearby valleys and waterways.
- Strip mining is a type of surface mining in which a long, relatively shallow strip of overlying soil and rock is removed to access the resource below. This type of mining is also destructive to the environment, leaving behind large scars in the land.
- Uranium can be extracted through mining, or by another technique called in-situ leaching. In this process, chemicals are pumped underground where they dissolve the uranium found in porous rocks. The uranium-containing liquid is then pumped back to the surface where it can be processed.
- Conventional extraction of oil and gas resources involves vertical drilling. In this technique, wells are drilled vertically deep into the ground, and then oil and gas resources are brought to the surface.
- Unconventional methods of oil and gas extraction include drilling horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing. This technique, also called fracking involves injecting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground at high pressure, creating fractures in the rock from which oil and natural gas are released. Impacts of fracking include methane being released into the atmosphere and groundwater contamination.
Want to join the conversation?
- Does vertical drilling have a big environmental impact? Does it release methane?(5 votes)
- Depends on how you handle the vertical drilling process, it can damage the environment significantly, such as polluting groundwater and disrupting wildlife habitat.
For your second question, yes, it has a possibility of releasing methane in the process. For most process, they implemented measures to reduce methane emissions, such as using equipment designed to capture and control emissions.(1 vote)
- So does fracking cause aeration of rock beds with in a magnitude or proximity of faults that in turn are creating subterranean events that are changing the earths format speed and orientation? 🤔(2 votes)
- Fracking may produce more faults in the Earth's crust, but the Earth's 'speed' and 'orientation' are controlled by the Sun's gravitational field that causes the Earth to orbit and rotate.(1 vote)
- How do you make water into oil?(1 vote)
- You can't. Water is a compound formed from 2 Hydrogen Atom and 1 Oxygen Atom (You probably know this) as in H2O. But oil is a mixture of organic compounds, which are hydrocarbons with varying carbon length. In short, they are two fundamentally different substances with different chemical compositions and properties.(1 vote)
- How safe is uranium mining? Does it have more harmful environmental impacts than other kinds of mining, or not?(1 vote)
- The safeness of Uranium mining depends on the company performing this.
If not handled properly, it will definitely pose a larger threat than other types of mining methods as Uranium is a radioactive chemical. It can pollute water, contaminate soil or even have air pollution.(1 vote)
- Are there natural occurrences of "extraction that can be exploited?(1 vote)
- not enough to satisfy the demand for fossil fuels. literally the only way to have safe and affordable electricity in the future is by using renewable resources effectively. where no extraction is needed.(1 vote)