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.

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Marcellus Shale Drilling
Marcellus Shale Drilling


Illustrations by Stephen Rountree
Design by Stefan Estrada

Illustration Not to Scale

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