Monday, September 08, 2008

International Rock Flipping Day (Yesterday)

Yesterday was International Rock Flipping Day, and, close to sunset, I remembered to join the fun. Technical difficulties with my camera batteries postponed my report until today.

In contrast to last year, there was much more moisture in the ground, so this time I found a "fish worm." Last year, I found more interesting things on rocks and in rocks than under them. There is plenty of biodiversity within the rocks here on Droop Mountain, as you can see in these photos.

What's in the rocks is the Pocahontas County topic of the day, because, like much of Appalachian Pennsylvania and New York state, the Marcellus shale underlies us. There is renewed interest in drilling and extracting natural gas from this very deep layer, and speculators are contacting people here, offering to buy or lease mineral rights.

Our ridge lacks enough level ground to make drilling here feasible, so no one is trying to get us to sell anything; however, it concerns us because the extraction process for these deep gas deposits involves forcing vast quantities of water into and then out of the wells. Water is a limited resource, and disposal of the contaminated water can be a problem.

I've been reading as much as I can about the issue, and I have here my usual list of links in case you want to read further. Whether or not Pocahontas land owners decide to sell or lease, most of the mineral rights in our county are already controlled by forces outside the County. Monongahela National Forest is administered by the U.S. Forest Service, but the federal government only owns part of those mineral rights. Some of the early 20th century logging companies retained their mineral rights when they sold the government their land.


NW Nature Nut said...

The fossil is GREAT. I just don't see things like that here...or I need to find out where to look for them. Very fun!

PJ said...

I've always wanted to find a fossil rock. I understand the battery problem, with digital cameras, it's always at the back of my mind. Great find this year as well and nice photo of it.

Anonymous said...

Nice photos, and interesting to hear what's going on in WV r.e. natural gas.

I finally had to switch to rechargeable batteries for my camera.

Reya Mellicker said...

Flipping? Yes!
Drilling? Oh no!!

Love the fossil. The worm? Ewwww!

Sherry said...

Oh Rebecca, the poor Appalachians. Exploited and exploited some more. I, too, love the fossil. But I like fishing worms too. They make good soil.

Rebecca Clayton said...

The Appalachians have great fossils if you like invertebrates and the shallow seas of the Devonian and Ordovician. (I'm a fan.) For fans of vertebrates, Calvert Cliffs on the Bay in Maryland sheds whale vertebrae and shark teeth every time it rains hard. Now would be a good time to go!

However, I'd really rather leave some of the coal and gas where it sits. Someday, people will be appalled that we just burned that precious stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, and the links. It's a shame the link for 'Water quality the issue in gas exploration' has been removed.