Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Week 7: Emily Mercurio and Marcellus Shale

 Week 7 entailed a talk from Emily Mercurio, a geologist at Cabot Gas, about natural gas drilling on Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. Cabot Gas is a natural gas extraction company that uses the technique of  hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" to recover gas about 5,000 feet below the Earth's surface. She explained the technique that they use in order to extract the gas, and the regulations and equipment associated with it. In a nutshell:
  1. Regulations are discussed between the land owner and the drilling company
  2. A drilling pad is established on a plot of land (either private or public)
  3. Check underground conditions
  4. Safety precautions
  5. Drilling process
Much to many of our suprise, we found that the drilling process is much safer than we expected. Often times we hear about fracking contaminating water sources, but it is actually the drilling process that is inclined to influence pollution. When natural gas is extracted, and the pipe it is coming out of isn't sealed properly, it could seep into the groundwater system. Other sources of pollution are the chemicals that are used in the fracking water. Water is needed to create pressure in the ground to extract the gas, and if the fracking water isn't contained and treated it can have negative effects on the environment. Next week we plan to talk to Marc and Deb Wilson, the CMNH mineralogist and photographer, about minerals!

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