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Picture of the Day

Ash from dinosaur-era volcanoes linked with shale oil, gas

Nutrient-rich ash from an enormous flare-up of volcanic eruptions toward the end of the dinosaurs' reign kicked off a chain of events that led to the formation of shale gas and oil fields from Texas to Montana. Advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing over the past 20 years led to a U.S. energy boom in "unconventionals," a category that includes the shale gas and "tight" oil found in shale fields like the Cretaceous Eagle Ford and Mowry and older ones like the Barnett and Bakken. The research team determined that ash had come from hundreds of eruptions that spanned some 10 million years. The layers had been transported several hundred miles east of their volcanic source in California. The ash was deposited on the seafloor after being blown through plumes that rose miles into the atmosphere and drifted over the ocean.

Visit Website | Image credit: NASA/ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center