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Surprising Surge of Lights Appears in North Dakota Darkness

No cities are in the vicinity and the bright spot didn't exist six years ago
United States from Space
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

When NASA revealed its stunning new images of the Earth at night - or the Black Marble, as some referred to the darkened planet - one NPR correspondent noticed something unusual: a mysterious mass of lights in North Dakota near the Canadian border. The sighting was surprising for a few reasons. First, there are no large cities in the region that would cause the phenomenon, and second, the lights didn't exist in that same spot six years ago. So how to explain them?

Far below the Earth's surface in this once-desolate region lie vast oil deposits, which in recent years have been captured by fracking, a process that fractures rocks below the surface to release the oil. With this innovation, oil fields have sprung up in a remote corner of North Dakota, along with hundreds of requisite oil rigs - and their bright lights.

Still, oil rig lights are not the sole cause of the mass of lights in the NASA image. As oil is being captured by fracking, less valuable gas is also released. Rather than capturing all of the gas, oil companies are letting nearly a third of it burn - creating brights bursts of flames, or as we see in the image, an additional surge of light, according to the NPR post.

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Jana Livingston

fracking is not a good thing- letting the gases burn? ******* crazy

February 24 2013 at 11:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rons5152

It's bushes fault

January 18 2013 at 11:50 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
rons5152

It's bushes fault

January 18 2013 at 11:49 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Brian

How much carbon does this let into air? how many cars worth? the EPA will go after you if you spill a drop of any chemical in the groundwater, they have plans to charge for emissions (cap and trade),Good 'ol Al Gore wants us to ride bikes yet the big boys just WASTE tons and tons of it for economics?????????

January 18 2013 at 11:43 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brian's comment
nan.pelosi

Thats big Al Gorezeera!

January 18 2013 at 1:32 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
serranojacobkael

I mean, sure, you may have too much. But it;s ridiculous to just burn it off. I know for a fact that there are other things that can be done.

January 18 2013 at 3:32 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to serranojacobkael's comment
brucevold777

Just got back from the N Dak oil Fields those flares are called street lights out their,
for your information in 2015 all wells produced will have to be piped or the gas must run the equipment on the pad,
and they are building gas lines as fast as they can,with the new rigs the Oil companys can drill a well in 17 to 25 days, with 200 rigs (average) count that's a lot of holes.
As far as Fracking I hauled sand to those sites, it takes up to a month to frack so, Fracking is falling behind,as of this time their are 350 wells sitting and ready to frack, so the Bakken Rocks just look at the gas prices

January 18 2013 at 9:31 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
brucevold777

FYI their is so much oil coming out of the Bakken, Their is not enough infrastructuer to haul all the oil to the plants that make Gas.
The Keystone Pipe line would help, but we know Who is Stopping that Project, But one good note the Affiliate Indian Tribe of N Dak has for the first time in 40 years, has retained a permit to build as gas and deasiel manufacturing plant in N Dak !!!!!!! you go EPA

January 18 2013 at 9:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
serranojacobkael

WHY would they BURN 1/3 of the oil??? Is anyone not outraged by this? They would rather BURN perfectly useful oil than sell it? Or donate it? OR GIVE IT?! I don't care what you say, this shows the corruption of the government, corporations and world. First of all, oil is a NON-renewable resources, and something that everyone needs, everywhere! To burn something that we have a limited supply of is not beyond foolish. As the few centuries progress, gasoline won't be so abundant as they are now. The burning of oil is horrible for the environment. It happens enough, let alone in vain. The government seriously needs to step in, end this practice, and punish it. Call me whatever you want.

January 18 2013 at 3:30 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to serranojacobkael's comment
Don Mace

Read the article again, they are burning 1/3 of the natural gas not the oil! Read, comprehend, think! then type.

January 18 2013 at 8:32 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Don Mace's comment
moparphilip383

There is wet gas and dry gas. So before you belittle you tell me which one they are burning, because wet gas can precipitate oils or create polymers. Read criticize and trust big oil because they have done some much for others.

January 18 2013 at 8:48 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down
GeminiJ95

Natural gas is also a resource that should not be wasted!!!

January 18 2013 at 9:23 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
scottnsandrac

The problem is that the infrastructure in ND cannot handle that much oil being brought up. You have to understand that this has been a huge BOOM and the State has never been in this position and is trying to keep up, they are building night and day to fix that. I live here, right where they are saying this is happening, little tiny towns, little roads, too much happening at once.

January 18 2013 at 11:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Nestor

It's called the light of prosperity. Darkness only reflects where people are struggling.

January 18 2013 at 1:08 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
steelartist

A reporter friend of mine once told me, If tons of extra food is grown, the government orders it destroyed to keep food prices up

January 18 2013 at 12:43 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to steelartist's comment
Mason Thornberg

That during the Great Depression, when President FDR went as far as ordering the burning of illegal wheat fields - during a famine - to keep prices up.

January 18 2013 at 9:04 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
setherzmomma

or it's aliens, lol, just saying..

January 18 2013 at 12:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rcapilot

Is this the location of Winnipeg, Manitoba?

January 17 2013 at 11:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rcapilot's comment
scottnsandrac

No. it's in the turtle Mountains and south in ND

January 18 2013 at 11:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
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