Marcellus Shale mapping soon will start in four townships to prepare for natural gas drilling at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Seismic surveyor Precision Geophysical Inc. of Millersburg, Ohio, plans 2-D underground mapping for Consol Energy Inc., which has a $500 million deal with Allegheny County to drill about 50 wells around the airport.
Seismic vibration trucks -- also called vibroseis, or thumper, trucks -- will be used on about 34 miles of roads in Findlay, Moon and North Fayette in Allegheny County, and in Independence, Beaver County, according to project maps.
The trucks drop weight blocks to create sound waves that penetrate the ground and reflect back with information about underground shale characteristics.
No explosives will be used.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has permitted the company to use the trucks on portions of state-owned roads -- Route 30, Route 978 and Clinton, Moon-Clinton, Washington, Potato Garden Run, Burgettstown and Flaugherty Run roads.
Findlay supervisors voted, 3-0, Oct. 9 to permit the firm to conduct seismic testing on about two miles of township-owned Hookstown Grade Road.
Precision Geophysical will begin work in the next couple of weeks, and the firm expects to complete about six miles each day, company representative Blair Quesenberry said.
"As we're shaking the road, we will be progressing about 1 mile per hour, so it sounds like we're going to be in town for a number of days," he said.
Findlay granted permission for the company to start work at 8 a.m. on Saturdays, an hour earlier than usual. Work must end by 7 p.m. The firm will provide its own traffic control.
Property owners within 125 feet of weight drop tests must be notified of the availability of pre- and post-test building inspections and lab tests for water wells, according to the Findlay permit.
In addition to a $25,200 roadway bond, the testing firm is required to sign an excess maintenance agreement that ensures road damage is repaired immediately, township manager Gary Klingman said.
"It doesn't allow them to come in, destroy the roads and then come back three weeks later or a month or whatever [to fix it]. They have to react now," he said.
On the state-owned roads in Allegheny County, lane restrictions are prohibited from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 3 to 6 p.m.
Also last week, Findlay supervisors approved a permit for another firm -- Texas-based Seitel Data Ltd., with local offices in Monaca -- to conduct seismic testing for driller Range Resources in Findlay's 57-acre Clinton Community Park.
Township officials said work must not interfere with the park's Christmas Light-Up Celebration. The event usually runs from mid-November through the first week of January.
Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published October 17, 2013 12:54 AM