Fracking in South Texas: Spatial Landscape Impacts

by Emil Morhardt

In a Master’s thesis from the University of Texas at Austin, Jon Paul Pierre presents an interesting analysis of the effects of development (which includes a good deal of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) in the Eagle Ford Shale play in South Texas, where more than 5,000 wells have been drilled since 2008. What he sets out to do is assess the spatial fragmentation of the landscape from the construction of drilling pads, roads, pipelines, and other infrastructure. He used 2012 aerial photography with a 1-m resolution obtained from the National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP), and over laid on that the locations of well pads, pipelines, and other infrastructure, then used Geographical Information System (GIS) tools to characterize the types of areas being disturbed. Continue reading