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Shale is a type of sedimentary rock from which oil and gas may be produced by utilizing different extraction techniques.  Shale is fine-grained and made up of a mix of clay minerals and tiny fragments of silt-sized particles.  It is characterized by breaks along thin parallel layers less than one centimeter in thickness, called fissility.

How it’s important to us

Shale is especially relevant at the moment due to all the “shale plays” that are being made across the North American continent.  Some of the bigger ones include the Marcellus shale in the lower north east, the Eagle Ford and Barnett shales in Texas, and the Bakken shale in North Dakota.  Here is a map of some of them.  Due to the recent improvements in hydraulic fracturing, shale rock has been thrust into the forefront of producing formations in North America and could be the key to US energy independence in the future.

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