National Geographic News

Breaking Fuel From the Rock

Geologists long knew there was natural gas in the Marcellus shale formation, but thought it impossible to unlock. But producers in the last decade learned to mine this huge resource by drilling horizontally to reach a large surface area, then fracturing the rock with high-pressure water, sand, and lubricant chemicals.

View Interactive »
Marcellus Shale Drilling
Marcellus Shale Drilling


Illustrations by Stephen Rountree
Design by Stefan Estrada

Illustration Not to Scale

Popular Stories

  • Fighting Over Herring

    Fighting Over Herring

    Pacific herring stocks are shadows of their former abundance. But the Canadian government wants to reopen fishing off British Columbia.

  • Smoke Is Feeding Stronger Tornadoes

    Smoke Is Feeding Stronger Tornadoes

    A computer simulation of America's worst day of tornadoes in decades finds a link to land-clearing fires in Central America.

  •  Why 'Mountaineer's Guide to Death' Matters

    Why 'Mountaineer's Guide to Death' Matters

    "People find it instructive and helpful, but also kind of fun—in a macabre kind of way," says the American Alpine Club's executive editor.