3-D Seismic Testing

Spring Plowing

Spring Plowing

I’m living right smack in the midst of the Pennsylvania shale gas boom.
It’s one of the reasons I may be moving and relocating – but more about that another time.

In my neck of the woods most landowner’s have leased their farms and properties to Shell.
Local farmers have signed 5 year leases and received substantial upfront “signing bonuses”.
We are at the very beginning phase of shale gas production.


Sadly the fabric of my small farming community is beginning to unravel due to the influx of so much money so fast with the promise of much more to come. Avarice, greed and petty jealousies have set neighbor against neighbor.
It’s the money and not the frack water that will poison all our lives here.

There have been several deep horizontal test wells drilled already with more to come this summer.
At present 3-D seismic testing is being conducted with crews from Texas.
(who by the way hate our cool weather)
I thought you might like to see some of the seismic equipment that is being used and located throughout my section of western Pennsylvania.

3-D Seismic Testing Crew

3-D Seismic Testing Crew

The way that I understand the 3-D seismic testing process is that first a section of land is surveyed.
Then 3” holes are drilled in a grid like pattern over the surveyed location to a depth of about 20’ or so – sometimes deeper.

3-D Seismic Equipement & Cables

3-D Seismic Equipment & Cables

Next at the bottom of the holes 2.2 pounds of ammonium nitrate explosive is placed. Geophones, wires and cables are also set in place to record the sonar like returns when the explosives are set off.
The resulting images give information about the thickness of the Marcellus and Utica shale and its formation.

There have been a few problems with some of the early seismic testing studies.
Seems that the crews where placing charges that were too hot for the population density of western Pennsylvania, resulting in some cracked house foundations and other property damage.
The general advice that is now given to people is to take pictures of your house and outbuilding foundations and don’t sign anything that will hold the testing company harmless from damages.

  6 comments for “3-D Seismic Testing

  1. Cynthia
    April 21, 2013 at 7:11 am

    This is so sad. I grew up in the northern outskirts of Pittsburgh. The steel mills were just starting to slow down. The slag heaps, denuded hills – the smog….ugh. I can’t imagine what all that beautiful land is going to look like in a few years time. The unknown future environmental problems that will be caused.

    What are you all going to be planting in that big field BTW?

    • KMG
      April 21, 2013 at 8:42 am

      Cynthia -
      That’s not my field. It’s an Amish field that will be planted in corn and is being map with 3D seismic testing too.
      The shale gas boom is having quite an impact on the local Amish community here too.

  2. Dannie
    April 21, 2013 at 7:37 am

    This is all so tragic. I couldn’t imangine why you would want to sell your beautiful farm but now I do. Fracking is a train wreck and I hate that it is destroying our communities and natural resources. I hope you can find a new place to call home.

  3. Carol Urban
    April 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    There isn’t a community in western PA which won’t be touched by the gas and shale boom so we decided to lease our property (all 4.3572 acres of it) four years ago. We haven’t gotten rich and there haven’t been any royalty checks rolling in. Our well water has not been affected and neither have the springs or creeks on our property. Both creeks feed into trout stream tributaries. People come out twice a year to test all the water sources on our property and we receive a report in the mail. I consider this a boon to PA and to our country if it gets people employed and feeds local families. Ask me in 10 years how I feel? It may be a different story, I don’t know. Then again, in 10 years our country as we know it may be gone and we could all be under Muslim control. That thought is a much more scary one to me.

    • Shenandoah
      April 21, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Just curious… Who are the ‘people’ that test your water? The fracking company, the local government, or your own personal water testing company? Thanks….

      • KMG
        April 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm

        An independent lab due to a preexisting limestone, coal & sand lease. It is tested twice a year.

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