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Fact Sheet 2011–3092

Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the Devonian Marcellus Shale of the Appalachian Basin Province, 2011

By James L. Coleman, Robert C. Milici, Troy A. Cook, Ronald R. Charpentier, Mark Kirschbaum, Timothy R. Klett, Richard M. Pollastro, and Christopher J. Schenk

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Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated a mean undiscovered natural gas resource of 84,198 billion cubic feet and a mean undiscovered natural gas liquids resource of 3,379 million barrels in the Devonian Marcellus Shale within the Appalachian Basin Province. All this resource occurs in continuous accumulations.

In 2011, the USGS completed an assessment of the undiscovered oil and gas potential of the Devonian Marcellus Shale within the Appalachian Basin Province of the eastern United States. The Appalachian Basin Province includes parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The assessment of the Marcellus Shale is based on the geologic elements of this formation's total petroleum system (TPS) as recognized in the Appalachian Basin Province. These elements incorporate the characteristics of the TPS as a petroleum source rock (source rock richness, thermal maturation, petroleum generation, and migration) as well as a reservoir rock (stratigraphic position and content and petrophysical properties).

Together, these components confirm the Marcellus Shale as a continuous petroleum accumulation. Using this geologic framework, the USGS defined one TPS and three assessment units (AUs) within this TPS and quantitatively estimated the undiscovered oil and gas resources within the three AUs. For the purposes of this assessment, the Marcellus Shale is considered to be that Middle Devonian interval that consists primarily of shale and lesser amounts of bentonite, limestone, and siltstone occurring between the underlying Middle Devonian Onondaga Limestone (or its stratigraphic equivalents, the Needmore Shale and Huntersville Chert) and the overlying Middle Devonian Mahantango Formation (or its stratigraphic equivalents, the upper Millboro Shale and middle Hamilton Group).

Posted August 23, 2011

For additional information contact:
James L. Coleman, Task Leader
Energy Resources Program
U.S. Geological Survey
956 National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192-0002
Telephone: (703) 648–6400
Fax: (703) 648–6419
E-mail: James L. Coleman


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Suggested citation:

Coleman, J.L., Milici, R.C., Cook, T.A., Charpentier, R.R., Kirschbaum, Mark, Klett, T.R., Pollastro, R.M., and Schenk, C.J., 2011, Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources of the Devonian Marcellus Shale of the Appalachian Basin Province, 2011: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011–3092, 2 p., available at

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