Seismic testing is set to begin in Murrysville
A Colorado-based company soon will begin conducting seismic testing in Murrysville as a precursor to Marcellus shale drilling.
Tesla Exploration — a Colorado-based company that specializes in seismic acquisition services for the mining, oil and gas exploration industry — submitted a seismic-testing permit to Murrysville on Tuesday, Chief Administrator Jim Morrison said.
Morrison said he hasn't reviewed the permit but understands that testing will take place from the end of January through early February.
The company will conduct seismic testing with “the express purpose of conducting energy source operations, a seismic survey, using state of the art technology to produce detailed images of the geological structure beneath the earth's surface,” according to a public notice.
Testing will occur on about nine square miles of property stretching from the Washington Township line in the north, the Penn Township line in the south. The western boundary of testing will be along Wiestertown Road. The eastern boundary will be the Delmont border.
Testing can occur only on properties where permission has already been granted, Morrison said. Ion GX Technology and Cougar Land Services, two Texas-based land services companies, had sent out requests to residents throughout Murrysville, Export and Delmont.
Tesla will conduct two types of testing, using vibroseis trucks and detonating charges. The trucks will be used on state and public roads, and charges will be detonated on private properties.
The trucks, which typically are called “thumper trucks,” use a very large weight attached to its undercarriage to thump and shake the ground. Underground soundwaves are recorded to determine the location of gas pockets.
On private properties, Tesla will drill a hole at least 20 feet underground and discharge small amount of explosives inside. The vibrations caused by the explosion will reflect off rock units, said Murrysville Councilman Dave Perry, an environmental geologist.
“It's similar to the technology used for earthquake detection, except this is portable, not permanent,” Perry said. “It's pretty commonly used throughout the world.”
Very rarely, Perry said, there can be problems.
“What can happen, and it's more realistic than structural damage, is you have a blowout because the packing they use detonates the explosive,” Perry said. “That gravel can blow out of the hole.”
Perry said he worked on seismic lines for two summers and only saw that issue twice.
Though Murrysville does have a seismic testing ordinance, officials can't regulate explosives.
That falls to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Under the municipal regulations, an approved engineer must be on site for all seismic testing, Morrison said.
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.