The sparkling new view of American cities from space reveals a town with a different kind of night-life. One of the bright regions that sits alone in the darkness of the northern plains isn’t a bustling city at all – instead, this blaze is a night-time view of fracking in action.
Seen in photos taken by NASA’s Suomi satellite, the glow comes from hundreds of flares from rigs drilled into the Bakken formation of North Dakota. The huge amount of unwanted gas being burned off from the production of shale oil creates a light the size of metropolitan Boston.
Bakken is a 360-million-year-old tectonic plate made primarily of shale rock. Fracking has liberated the oil that lies within it, propelling North Dakota to the second-largest oil producing state in the US, behind Texas.