A primer on Marcellus Shale geology and technology offered in webinar

University Park, Pa. -- By now, many are aware of the huge volume of natural gas held in the deeply buried Marcellus Shale formation and its enormous economic potential for Pennsylvania and neighboring states.

For those who want to learn more about the Marcellus "play," Penn State Cooperative Extension is offering a free, Web-based seminar at 1 p.m. on Dec. 16, titled, "Plumbing the Depths in Pa.: A Primer on Marcellus Shale Geology and Technology."

During the one-hour webinar, Michael Arthur, professor of geosciences, will focus on the geology of the Marcellus Shale and technology for extraction as they influence exploration and development of the natural-gas resource. Co-director of the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, Arthur will answer questions from online participants during the session.

"The middle Devonian Marcellus Formation in the Appalachian Basin of Pennsylvania and New York is estimated to contain in excess of 486 trillion cubic feet of extractable natural gas," he said. "That is sufficient for more than 20 years supply at the United States' current rate of consumption."

Arthur pointed out that there also is the possibility of additional significant shale gas deposits that may be targeted within the same basin -- Devonian black shale units above the Marcellus Shale and the Ordovician Utica Shale below.

"In my presentation, I will discuss the geologic characteristics of the Marcellus Shale formation, the estimated volume of gas deposits at various points, and the process and effect of hydraulic fracturing," Arthur said. "I also will address the continuing concern that drilling operations could allow gas migration into shallow, fresh-water aquifers, which is now being studied intensively."

The webinar, "Plumbing the Depths in Pa.: A Primer on Marcellus Shale Geology and Technology," is part of an ongoing series of workshops and events addressing issues related to the state's Marcellus Shale gas boom. Information about how to register for the webinar is available on the webinar page of Penn State Cooperative Extension's "Natural Gas" website. .

Additional one-hour webinars will be held at 1 p.m. on the following dates:

-- Jan. 20, 2011: "Marcellus Shale Legislation: What Was Accomplished in the 2009-10 Session and What Issues Remain to be Addressed."

-- Feb. 16, 2011: "Dealing with Gas Tax Issues: What You Need to Know."

-- March 17, 2011: "Natural Gas Well Development and Emergency Response and Management."

Previous webinars, publications and other information on topics such as water use and quality, zoning, gas-leasing considerations for landowners and implications for local communities also are available on the "Natural Gas" website at http://extension.psu.edu/naturalgas.

For more information, contact John Turack, extension educator in Westmoreland County, at 724-837-1402 or by e-mail at jdt15@psu.edu.

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Last Updated March 21, 2011