The combination of horizontal drilling and hydrofracking has led to substantial benefits in the past decade.  The surge in domestic production of shale oil has reduced US dependence on imports, while generating  electricity by burning natural gas from shale produces only half the CO2 emissions of coal.  Yet there is much room for improvement in the efficiency and safety of production of unconventionals.  In particular, only a small fraction of hydrocarbons trapped in a given volume of shale is produced at present.  Improving the yield would produce more energy with less environmental impact.  In addition to such practical considerations, there are interesting scientific questions to pursue.  Among these is the observation that only a tiny fraction (~ 0.01%) of the deformation accompanying hydrofracking releases seismic energy - the rest is silent.

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