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The Marcellus Shale, Explained

Background

Marcellus Shale is a sedimentary rock buried thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface. It stretches from upstate New York south through Pennsylvania to West Virginia and west to parts of Ohio. Named after a town in upstate New York, the rock itself is millions of years old, formed from mud and organic material. The natural gas created over millions of years as a byproduct of decomposition is trapped in tiny spaces and fissures within the rock. The Marcellus Shale is just one of many shale formations across the world. When industry speaks of tapping shale gas, it often refers to it as a “shale play.” The Marcellus is one of the first shale plays to be tapped, after the Barnett Shale formation in Texas.

Latest Posts

Fracking protests grow in North Africa

Some of the earliest protests against fracking, and natural gas drilling, began here in Pennsylvania. They spread to New York, and then overseas to Europe. Like New York state, countries like France, Germany, and Bulgaria responded with fracking bans. Others like South Africa, have moratoriums. Now, the oil and gas rich nation of Algeria has [...]

Penn students jump into the fracking fray with a new technology

One of the pressing questions regarding fracking is whether or not the chemicals used to help pry the gas from tight rock formations like the Marcellus Shale leaks or migrates to drinking water supplies. But testing water for contamination and linking it directly to gas drilling has proven problematic. Imagine if you could determine whether [...]

Feds fine Marcellus driller XTO $2.3 million

The Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Department of Justice, have fined XTO, a subsidiary of ExxonMobile, $2.3 million for violating the Clean Water Act. The damage to streams and wetlands took place in West Virginia and includes an estimated $3 million remediation price tag. During drilling operations at eight separate sites, the company dumped [...]

DEP slaps Vantage Energy with massive fine for landslide and dumping

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fined the Colorado-based Vantage Energy almost $1 million for more than a dozen violations of the state’s Clean Streams Law and the  Oil and Gas Act. The sanction stems from a landslide at the company’s Porter Street well site in Franklin Township, Greene County. But it turns out the landslide [...]

Gas drilling draws citizen scientists to the field

Joanne Martin stands on the muddy bank of Brady Run, a stream in Beaver County in western Pennsylvania. To get there, she crawled down a steep gravel slope, ducking low tree branches and stepping over dead brush. Martin has been coming to Brady Run for three years to test the water for signs of pollution [...]

What New York’s fracking ban means for drilling along the Delaware river

The surprise decision by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking and prevent the development of Marcellus Shale gas in that state could have ripple effects in eastern Pennsylvania. New York issued a lengthy scientific report on potential health and environmental impacts Wednesday. And Cuomo’s subsequent decision could mean a permanent ban on drilling [...]

Plans for shale gas ‘energy hub’ draw investors and protestors to Philadelphia

Business leaders gathered in Philadelphia on Friday to pitch investors on plans to turn the region into an “energy hub” based on booming Marcellus Shale gas production. It’s hard to say exactly how it went, though, because most members of the news media were barred from the event. They hung around outside Drexel University’s Creese [...]

Industry documents show effort to hide health impacts of benzene

A new report out today by the Center for Public Integrity details how workers exposed to the cancer causing chemical benzene, get little support from their employers. CPI gained access to documents from court cases across the country, which show how companies try to debunk the science linking benzene to cancer. More from CPI: Taken [...]

Feds approve pipeline to bring Marcellus gas to New York, New England

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given the green light to a proposed interstate pipeline that would bring Marcellus Shale natural gas to markets in New York and New England, provided it meets certain environmental conditions. The Constitution project involves building 124 miles of new 30-inch-diameter pipeline, connecting gas production in Susquehanna County to existing transmission [...]

Shale bubble burst on the horizon? New report questions government’s rosy forecast

Marcellus Shale production could peak in just five years, plateau, and then tail off quickly, according to new research by a team of petroleum engineers at the University of Texas. The UT forecast is significantly less optimistic than recent reports issued by the Energy Information Administration, a government agency. The research is reported today in [...]

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