Great Britain's spatial twitter activity related to ‘fracking’

Phil Bartie, Adam Varley, Jennifer Dickie, Darrick Evensen, Patrick Devine-Wright, Stacia Ryder, Lorraine Whitmarsh, Colin Foad

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Fracking has proven to be a contentious issue in Great Britain, receiving wide press coverage from the initial sale of exploration and development licences, to the current moratorium. This research tracks the public activity online related to this ‘fracking’ journey by analysing over 317 million geolocated tweets from 2015 to 2020, mapping their location to compare the spatial distribution against the shale gas exploration sites. To spatially normalise the results for population density a chi-squared expectation surface was generated revealing higher than expected levels of interest near the previously active fracking site of Preston New Road and licenced extraction blocks in Lancashire. The data granularity allows for peaks of activity to be identified and topics analysed at higher temporal and spatial resolution than previously possible with more traditional surveys. The paper demonstrates the use of chi-squared expectation surfaces for normalising geotweets and the value of social media spatial-temporal analysis for monitoring local involvement in environmental issues, and for monitoring the changing level of interest across different regions in reaction to political decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101978
JournalComputers, Environment and Urban Systems
Early online date11 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Fracking
  • Geolocated tweets
  • Social media
  • χ-Squared expectation surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecological Modelling
  • General Environmental Science
  • Urban Studies


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