West Virginia Department of Commerce Marcellus Shale

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Marcellus Shale



Marcellus shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock that is part of a rock unit from the Devonian age. It lies beneath much of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, as well as portions of Kentucky, Tennessee and Maryland.
Marcellus Shale
Marcellus is present below the surface throughout much of West Virginia, except in the extreme eastern or western areas. It varies in thickness across the state and occurs at varying depths, and crops out at the surface in eastern West Virginia.

New Attention on Marcellus Shale
The Marcellus Shale has attracted a great deal of attention in the last few years as oil and gas operators explore for new sources of natural gas in locations close to the large markets in the northeastern United States.

The organic-rich Marcellus has long been viewed as a source of much of the natural gas produced to date in the Appalachian Basin. Until recently, the Marcellus had not been thought of as a reservoir as well as a source rock. New technological advances developed in other shale basins such as the Barnett in the Fort Worth Basin, Texas, have been adapted for use in the Marcellus. The new technologies include horizontal drilling and massive hydraulic fracturing.

Interest in the Marcellus in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York has drawn companies from other parts of the United States and the world to lease land, acquire companies with acreage positions often held by shallower production, and begin to drill both vertical and horizontal wells to evaluate the gas potential of the Marcellus.

The West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey (WVGES) has created an Interactive Mapping Service, accessible on its Web site, specifically for the Marcellus. This gives users an idea of where the Marcellus is present, about how deep it is and about how thick it is. Also, a layer on the interactive map shows wells targeting the Marcellus. In addition, downloadable files of the individual well data are available on the Web site. Support for these efforts has been provided in part by the U.S. Department of Energy.


More than 2,700 wells have been identified as targeting the Marcellus. Records for about 1,300 of these wells have been received. More than 1000 of these wells have a reported pay interval in the Marcellus. Over 26 Bcf of gas production is reported from these wells for 2005-2008. About 160 of the permitted wells have been canceled.

The WVGES has responded to hundreds of inquiries about the Marcellus from a broad spectrum of customers, ranging from citizens who have been approached about leasing their property to oil and gas company employees looking for geologic data in their quest to evaluate the Marcellus.

For more information, contact us:
West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey
Mont Chateau Research Center
1 Mont Chateau Road
Morgantown, West Virginia 26508-8079
Phone: (304) 594-2331

Geological Survey 2012
Geological Survey 2012 Annual Report

The West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey provides information on coal, carbon sequestration and the exploration for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. Read the agency's 2012 Annual Report.