The Iowa Geoscience Education Information Network

Explore Iowa Geology

UNI Earth and Environmental Sciences

Geology and Environmental Sustainability in the News

Geology plays a pivotal role in our daily lives and well-being. This story comes from the New York Times Daily Podcast. The episode was played on April 27, 2020. You can listen to or download the the podcast here

A Glut of Oil

New York Times Daily Glut of Oil story page

Key points: History of oil and gas, fracking, Covid-19

Important questions - What is the future of energy usage? How do we prepare prepare for the future? Others?

Iowa's connections to geologic concepts

The majority of Iowans use and are dependent on fossil fuels. Iowa’s economy directly linked to the use of oil and gas. This New York Times story provides a good summary of the oil and gas industry’s 'ups and downs'. This industry is not stable for a variety of reasons natural resource availability/geology, supply and demand/economics, divisive politics, greed and environmental volatility (climate change, hurricanes, and now virus pandemics). Access to reliable, cost effective and sustainable energy resources is critical to our states future. This podcast should raise many questions and open a debate about how we should move forward.
Geologically Iowa, southwest Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota have two formations that are highly sought after by the oil and gas industry for fracking. The St. Peter and Jordan Sandstones are mined, shipped and used to increase the porosity and permeability of shale in places like North Dakota and Pennsylvania. Porosity within rock characterizes its ability to hold/store gas, oil or water. Permeability characterizes the ability of oil, gas or water to move through rock or sediment. Increasing the porosity and permeability of oil/gas bearing rock facilitates the extraction of fossil fuel reserves. The sedimentary particles that make up shale are very small, providing some porosity but no permeability.

Further reading

The Natural History of Pikes Peak State Park, Geologic Soceity of Iowa Guidebook 70

Iowa Association of Naturalists - Energy use in Iowa

U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA) - The State of Iowa