NASA Earth Observatory's Suomi Satellite captured the night time glow from hundreds of flares from rigs drilled into the Bakken shale oil formation of North Dakota, a 360-million-year-old tectonic plate, creating a light show the size of metropolitan Boston.
Fracking of the Bakken formation has liberated the oil that lies within it, propelling North Dakota to the second-largest oil producing state in the US, behind Texas. Flaring burns off excess natural gas during oil production. The controversial process effectively wastes a natural resource while simultaneously emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As of 2011, more than 35 per cent of North Dakota's natural gas production was burnt off in flares, by far the highest in the nation, according to a study done by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Image credit Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon/VIIRS/Suomi NPP)