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



Bartie P, Varley A, Dickie J, Evensen D, Devine-Wright P, Ryder S, Whitmarsh L & Foad C (2023) Great Britain's spatial twitter activity related to ‘fracking’. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 103, Art. No.: 101978.

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 χ-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 χ-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.

χ-Squared expectation surface: Social media; Geolocated tweets; Fracking

Computers, Environment and Urban Systems: Volume 103

Publication date31/07/2023
Publication date online31/05/2023
Date accepted by journal27/04/2023
PublisherElsevier BV

People (2)


Dr Jennifer Dickie

Dr Jennifer Dickie

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Dr Adam Varley

Dr Adam Varley

Data Scientist, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Projects (1)