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What Is Marcellus Shale?

With all the discussion of natural gas and the Marcellus Shale formation, you might be interested to know more facts about this interesting subject.

Named for the town of Marcellus, New York where the shale reaches the surface, the Marcellus Shale formation is the largest source of domestic natural gas yet discovered in the United States of America. The shale formation was formed roughly 390 million years ago during what is known as the Devonian Age. At that time in history, much of North America was covered by seas. The Marcellus Shale formation is the deepest and oldest member of what has been called the Hamilton Group Formations.

The Marcellus Shale was formed over millions of years when mud was deposited on the deep and oxygen deprived sea floor. The mud contained marine organic matter including algae. Because there is no oxygen or a lack of oxygen, the organic matter was slow to decompose. As it was decomposing, more sediment and mud covered it. This second sediment covering was rich in exoskeletons of marine organisms which later became limestone. The Marcellus Shale formation is generally trapped between layers of limestone. The limestone beneath the shale formation is Onodoga limestone and the layer of limestone on top is called Tully limestone. These two (2) limestone layers are impervious therefore, much needed natural gas is trapped inside the shale which is trapped inside the limestone layers. Though the Marcellus Shale formation has been known for decades, only recently was the technology available to extract natural gas from the shale. The thickness of the Marcellus Shalc runs from 900 feet beneath New Jersey to around 40 feet across the border in Canada. In West Virginia, it's approximately 200 feet below surface.

Recent advances in technology have permitted the extraction of the natural gas from the Marcellus Shale by a process known as horizontal drilling. This tcchnology advancement commenced in the late 1980's.

The second advancement is known as hydraulic fracktoring or fracking. In fracking, high pressure pumps are hooked up and fluids, mostly sand and water, are forced down into the shale to open cracks so natural gas can flow out of the formation.

There are major business players in Marcellus Shale activity including Chesapeake, Range Resources, EXCO Resources, Andarko, XTO, Rex Energy, Cabbott Oil and Gas, EOG, and many others.

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Davis & Davis Attorneys at Law

Davis & Davis Attorneys At Law