The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Graphically Speaking on Shale

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 3, 2011

Just came across a cool web site on energy from the Marcellus Shale, produced by Penn State Public Broadcasting with funding help from the Colcom Foundation. Here's how it looks:


The site basically is an informational graphic whose features explain how hydraulic fracturing is used to produce energy from shale. Key questions are located at strategic points in the graphic. Click on one and the box opens up to the answer. If you've got a question that's not addressed, you can use a form on the site to submit it. Click on the text-only shortcut in the toolbar and you get all the site questions together, with a glossary nearby.

My favorite thing about the site is that it illustrates how deep a typical natural gas well is and how unlikely it is for fracking fluids injected into the shale to migrate back up to the level of water wells. As you scroll down, a counter on the left of the screen shows how many feet into the ground you've gone (more than 5,000), traveling through the different subterranean strata. (On my iPad, for example, it took several finger flicks to get from the surface all the way down to the shale formation where fracturing occurs to release the natural gas.)

So check it out. Natural gas is abundant and clean-burning. In the Marcellus (and other shale regions) it's creating jobs and broad economic growth. While there are legitimate questions about drilling, extraction and the way energy companies work with host communities, there are good answers. This site a good place to find them.

Additional resources:


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.