Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Bakken and Eagle Ford shale plays are visible from space. Is the Marcellus?

If you get a chance, take a look a Phillip Longman's article in Washington Monthly, "Oops: The Texas Miracle That Isn't." Not only is it a good article, it features a great picture, namely this one:

What you're seeing is a section of a huge NASA composite satellite image of North America at night, taken in 2012, showing all the lights burning away in cities and towns. And not just cities and towns! That curved smattering south of San Antonio, as the labeling makes clear, is gas flaring from the Eagle Ford Shale.

The picture caught my attention, because I'd previously seen a similar one showing the Bakken Shale flaring, taken from the same NASA composite satellite image. Here's the image with both shales labeled:

What I'm curious to know is, can we see any flaring from the Marcellus Shale? There's certainly flaring going on, but I've never seen anyone identify it in satellite photos. Is it there?

In a draft version of this post, I initially said I couldn't see anything definitive. Maybe I'm seeing flaring, maybe I'm seeing rural towns. I just don't know. But then I took a closer look, and ... well, see for yourself:

I'm not going to swear I'm right about this, but there just shouldn't be that much light up there. I think those are gas wells. I think the Marcellus, like the Bakken and the Eagle Ford, is visible from space.

Do you agree? Here's a link to a high-res version of the NASA image all this is drawn from. Take a good look. Zoom in. Let me know if you think I'm right or not -- I'd genuinely like to know.

Addendum: And I have to say, I'm starting to wonder about those two lines of lights flanking Pittsburgh and extending southward ...

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