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Marcellus Shale >> Overview

Marcellus Shale Overview

What is the Marcellus Shale?

The massive Marcellus shale is arguably the star of the Appalachian Basin plays. It is the largest and one of the deepest natural gas play in the United States, located directly under the Mahantongo and Tully Limestone formations. It also overlaps its neighboring shale to the north, the Utica. Due to its immense natural gas holdings, the area has seen a large influx of operators looking to tap into the reserves. Of all the shale plays, the Marcellus shale has been the most popular target of anti-drilling and anti-fracing sentiments.

The depth to the top of the Marcellus shale ranges from 0 feet where it crops out in central Pennsylvania to over 9,000 feet in parts of southwestern and northeastern Pennsylvania. The gross thickness of the Marcellus shale ranges from less than 20 feet along the Lake Erie shoreline in northwestern Pennsylvania to several hundred feet in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.  The net thickness of organic-rich Marcellus shale varies from less than 10 feet in western Pennsylvania along the Ohio border to over 250 feet in northeastern Pennsylvania.


Major surface water resources in the Marcellus Shale area
– Susquehanna River
– Delaware River
– Chenango River
– Chemung River
– Ohio River
● Groundwater resources
– 95% of all groundwater comes from shallow aquifers
– Average depth less than 200’
– Easy to isolate and protect
●Wastewater treatment facilities
– Large volumes available
● Frequently recycling and reusing water from fracing
Susquehanna River

Marcellus shale Depth

Marcellus Shale Map

Source : Penn State

Marcellus shale Thickness of the 

Marcellus Shale

Source : Penn State

Major Gas Pipelines and Storage in the Marcellus Shale

Marcellus Shale Pipelines

Source : Penn State