What Is Marcellus Shale

The Marcellus Formation - What is Marcellus Shale?

The east coast of the United States has long been a high-demand market for energy resources, and the recent developments and headlines in the Appalachian Basin has many asking: What is Marcellus Shale? Where is it located and how is it used as a source of energy?

The Marcellus Shale, also known as the Marcellus Formation, is a unit of marine sedimentary rock believed to have been formed millions of years ago under inland seas throughout much of the Appalachian basin. Mircoscopic organisms were incorporated as the materials were deposited which slowly decayed to form a mixture of gases, which are still bound within the rock formation. The shale is named for a distinctive outcrop near the village of Marcellus, New York. The area is estimated to cover approximately 54,000 square miles in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the largest natural gas region in the country.

The Marcellus Shale’s vast area of coverage has the rest of the country asking What is Marcellus Shale? Similar shale formations have been found in Texas and Louisiana, but none have the promise and potential to the area that the Marcellus Shale has. Range Resources, the first company to extract the natural gas in 2003, now has drilled over 100 natural gas wells within their 900,000 acres in the Marcellus Shale play.

The economic potential of the area has energy companies and landowners negotiating to maximize their benefits, with joint landowner groups being formed and land leasing being the key topic of discussion. Environmentalists are also looking hard at the process of “fracking,” the method by which the oils and gas is extracted. The fracking process, also known as hydro-fracturing, involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into the earth at a high pressure to fracture rock formations to release the natural gas trapped inside. Recent concerns have prompted both federal and state legislators to look more closely at the process, meeting and weighing all sides of the What is Marcellus Shale issues.

The Marcellus Shale has the potential for a tremendous impact from an economic standpoint. Many companies and landowners are looking at a surge in both income from leased land and job opportunities. Although there are strong opinions on all sides of the issues, it is certain that the Marcellus Shale industry is a topic that will remain at the forefront of current events for some time.