University of Texas at Austin

Frac City 20 Years Later

March 9, 2018
Stephen Laubach

Dr. Stephen Laubach

Before the dot-com boom and bust, before Google and Amazon were household names, and well before smartphones became ubiquitous, a forerunner of interactive websites, Frac City, was launched right here at the Bureau of Economic Geology.  

Frac City was the brainchild of Bureau graduate student Sara Burns and some of her friends, who envisioned a secure, interactive website environment where research collaborators could communicate with each other and share information resources. In 1996, she approached her supervisor, Stephen Laubach, with the concept to provide the newly formed Fracture Research and Application Consortium (FRAC) with an online tool to assist that community of researchers in their collaborations. With funding from company partners and other resources, Frac City was launched and became a test bed for these types of interactive websites. Industry partners were impressed with its capabilities, and the site was tremendously useful for furthering FRAC’s research objectives. Fast forward to today—over 20 years later—and many of the elements of the Frac City website are still in use by FRAC, making the group’s website the longest-lived at the Bureau.

FRAC continues to develop new knowledge about fracture systems: what causes them and how they evolve over time. Building on the concept that the chemical attributes of fracture systems have a correlation to fracture patterns and clusters, FRAC and its collaborators have developed a general-purpose software tool to help determine fracture patterns. The tool is described in the February 2018 special issue of the Journal of Structural Geology, accessible along with other FRAC publications at the Structural Diagenesis Initiative site publications page.

For more information about FRAC, please contact Dr. Stephen Laubach.