Beneath our feet, the earth’s history is written in layers of rock. At times, those layers carry a legacy of that past — organic material that time and pressure have turned into the valuable commodities of gas and oil.
Over in Pennsylvania, energy companies are succeeding in tapping into those resources using a controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking. Those wells (at least 1,400 so far) are reaching down into a formation known as the Marcellus Shale. It extends into Ohio and energy companies are at work tying up leases for future exploitation.
As the Marcellus Shale extends into Ohio, becoming thinner as it goes West. In Knox County, it has either disappeared or is too thin to be of any use in producing gas and oil. But there is at least one formation, the Utica Shale, that is present and has great promise for oil and gas production.
Geologist William Rienthal of Jelloway explained that the layers of rock were formed as fine-grained, carbon-rich sediments at the bottom of an ocean that was near the edge of the ancestral Appalachian Mountains.