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Masterclasses 'Earthquakes and gas extraction in Groningen'

In collaboration with Rudolf Agricola School we developed a series of masterclasses. In online presentations, all sides of the Groningen gas extraction case are discussed by experts. The geological causes and the constructional consequences are discussed, but also the institutional settlement, the health of the residents and the economic effects.


An integrated understanding of the causes and the various 'social' consequences of gas extraction in Groningen are of great importance for a proper handling of the problem. With the masterclasses we want to offer interested parties in-depth insights regarding this theme. We provide an accessible overview and share knowledge from various disciplines.

The Masterclasses 

Dr. Nienke Busscher and Dr. Sanne Hupkes - The societal impact of gas extraction in Groningen

The societal impact of gas extraction in Groningen is wide-ranging and complex. In this Masterclass, the Knowledge Platform provides an overview based on 6 themes:

1. governance, communication and policy; 2. perceptions of safety, trust, damage and reinforcement; 3. housing market and economic developments; 4 living environment and livability; 5. culture, bonding and image; 6. and health and well-being. These themes stem from the scientific literature on social impact assessments and collectively cover the impact that (mining) projects can typically have on communities and their environments. This lecture has a strong interdisciplinary character with interpreting and connecting the different themes. We discuss the most recent developments in the field of gas extraction and earthquakes, strengthening and restoration of damage. The Knowledge Platform emphasizes that it is not only in terms of material and procedural repairs that Groningen needs to make, but also the restoration of relationships between all the actors involved..

Nienke Busscher has been involved as coordinator of the Knowledge Platform since its founding (2018). Together with scientific director Tom Postmes, she leads the team and gives organizational and substantive shape to the platform. In 2018, she received her PhD from the Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen (Department of Cultural Geography). Before that, she researched land expropriation in Argentina and the resulting tensions and cooperation between government, businesses and residents.


Sanne Hupkes worked as a researcher for the Knowledge Platform until March 2023. In this role, she was, among other things, lead author of the knowledge overview Inzicht in Impact: de gevolgen van gaswinning voor de bewoners van Groningen, published in 2021. Before that, she received her PhD in philosophy (Department of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy) from the University of Groningen with a dissertation on democracy in highly divided societies.

Prof. Rien Herber - On the origin and geological composition of the Groningen gas field.

Rien Herber is Emeritus Professor of Geo-Energy at the Energy and Sustainability Research Institute of the University of Groningen. He became adjunct director of NAM in 2004. In 2009, he became a professor in Groningen. He has been a member of the Mining Council since 2011.

In this presentation, Rien Herber discusses the origin and geological composition of the Groningen gas field. Special attention is given to the effect of gas production on the behavior of the gas field, in particular the occurring subsidence and seismicity. The source of vibration is located at a depth of around 3 km, but the presentation also explains what this means for seismic action at the earth's surface and the effect on structures.

Prof. mr. dr. Herman Bröring - the legal side of the mining damage issue

Herman Bröring is Professor of Administrative Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen. His research concerns general administrative (procedural) law, with particular attention to soft law, law enforcement and the mining damage issue in Groningen.

The legal side of the mining damage issue includes five cases: 1. the extent of gas production, 2. damage settlement, 3. strengthening of buildings, 4. regional perspective and 5. governance of the entire matter. This presentation covers damage handling and strengthening. In a mutual comparison between the two cases, the development from a private to a public law approach, and from an approach based on policy rules to a legal regulation: the Temporary Groningen Act, will be discussed. Special attention is paid to a number of striking organizational and procedural differences between damage settlement and reinforcement

Prof. dr. Frank Vanclay - Social impacts of extractive industries

Frank Vanclay is professor of Cultural Geography in the Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen.

Many negative social impacts can occur from extractive activities. These effects are usually intangible, difficult to measure, and may be temporary and spatially distant from the project site. In many ways, the social impacts of gas earthquakes in Groningen do not differ from the experiences of other communities in mining areas around the world. In this presentation, Frank Vanclay, an expert in managing social problems in large projects, discusses the experiences of communities in mining areas and outlines what extractive industries need to do to gain social license to operate and grow.

Prof. dr. Christian Zuidema - Energy transition in Groningen: problem or opportunity?

Christian Zuidema is Adjunct Professor of Planning on the topic of Planning for Sustainable Transformations at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences of the University of Groningen

Energy has played a major role in Groningen in recent decades: the rise of the chemical industry, the generation of electricity in Eemshaven, jobs in the energy sector, and more recently, the rise of renewable generation and its sometimes quite severe consequences. Christian Zuidema discusses the possible consequences and opportunities for socio-economic developments in relation to energy transition. The central question is whether energy should be seen as an opportunity or a threat in Groningen and, above all, how we can think more in terms of solutions. This involves both spatial changes and explicitly the institutional conditions - process, equity, costs and benefits.

Dr. Melanie Bakema - The effects of governance systems on resilience and recovery processes after disaster.

Melanie Bakema wrote her dissertation on "Disaster Governance" at the University of Groningen's Faculty of Spatial Sciences. In it, she compared different consequences and approaches to disasters by juxtaposing three disasters: Christchurch (New Zealand), Chiloé (Chile), and the earthquakes in Groningen. She studied how different governance systems have different effects on long-term resilience and sustainable recovery processes within communities. She is currently engaged as a crisis management policy advisor analyzing risks and providing policy advice on preventing and responding to potential disasters and crises, including in the areas of the Groningen earthquakes, cybersafety, and climate change.

Prof. dr. Harry Garretsen - Gas Extraction and Earthquakes: The Impact on Groningen House Prices.

Harry Garretsen is professor of International Economics & Business Administration at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Groningen.

As a researcher, how do you determine the possible effect of earthquakes on house prices? Or rather, how do you isolate the influence of the Groningen earthquakes on house prices knowing that numerous things can influence the price of a house? This master class will explain the methodology using a concrete research example, discuss and explain the results, and reflect on the policy relevance and importance to the inhabitants of the earthquake area.

Prof. dr. Michel Dückers - The health impact of gas extraction issues

Michel Dückers is professor of Crises, Safety and Health at the University of Groningen.

How do you maintain an independent overview of the psychosocial impact of the gas extraction issue? By involving stakeholders from policy, practice and science in the design, implementation and interpretation of the research and by maintaining an ongoing dialogue. The Gronings Perspectief research team conducts interviews and questionnaire measurements and analyzes data, responding to current developments and needs. Meanwhile, all sorts of similarities and differences can be identified between the ongoing situation in Groningen and other disasters and crises. We need to learn from this.

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