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Top Story

Deep down fracking wells, microbial communities thrive

Microbes have a remarkable ability to adapt to the extreme conditions in fracking wells, according to a new study. National Science Foundation-funded scientists found that microbes actually consume some of the chemical ingredients commonly used in the fracking process, creating new compounds which in turn support microbial communities below ground. The process allows the microbes to survive in very harsh environments that include very high temperatures, pressures and salinity. The work, based on samples from hydraulically fractured wells in Pennsylvania and Ohio, helps scientists understand the complex interactions among microbes--important for understanding the planet's environment and subsurface. The findings also help scientists understand what is happening in fracking wells and could offer insight into processes such as corrosion.

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