A Texas company that performs seismic mapping for oil and gas companies was the center of attention in the Third Street area of Marietta Monday.
Late Monday morning Washington Street resident Barb Stewart's house began to shake.
"The windows were rattling. A coffee cup vibrated off a table and fell onto the floor, and I cut my foot," she said. "I thought it was an earthquake."
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
A local resident watches as a convoy of “vibroseis” trucks from Tidelands Geophysical Company (TGC) performs seismic data testing along Muskingum Drive Monday afternoon.
Outside a small convoy of large white trucks was slowly making its way north along Third Street. At regular intervals the convoy would stop and a large vibrating metal disk would be lowered onto the road surface from each truck's undercarriage.
The "vibroseis" vehicles are owned by TGC, Tidelands Geophysical Company of Plano, Texas, which provides underground mapping services for the oil and gas industry.
"I was told this is a company that's creating 2- and 3-dimensional seismic maps," Stewart said. "They're using public roadways to do this work, but we didn't have any advance warning about what was happening."
At a glance
- "Vibroseis" vehicles from Tidelands Geophysical Company of Plano, Texas, lower heavy vibrating metal discs onto the road surface along Muskingum Drive to conduct seismic data testing Monday afternoon.
About Tidelands Geophysical Company (TGC)
- TGC Industries, Inc., based in Plano, Texas, is a leading provider of seismic data acquisition services with operations throughout the continental United States and Canada. The company has branch offices in Houston, Midland, Oklahoma City and Calgary.
She contacted Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks, who sent Stewart a company fax that indicated the vibration from the machinery would be no worse than a truck passing by her home.
"I feel they were not truthful about the magnitude of those vibrations," Stewart said. "And why were they doing this in the middle of Marietta?"
A block away on Sacra Via, resident Andy Grimm also felt the vibrations as the convoy passed close by.
"We had no warning. I was sitting at my computer when I heard what sounded like a sonic boom. I could hear and feel it, even though I live halfway down the block from Third Street," he said.
Grimm, who works with the Marietta College petroleum engineering program, walked up to Third Street where he saw the TGC trucks moving along the roadway.
"A young woman recording data from the vibrations said they were looking for gas and oil deposits," he said. "They were mapping the geology of this area."
Grimm noted with improved techniques like horizontal drilling, companies could potentially bore several thousand feet underground, even in the city, to extract oil and gas from shale deposits. But he added that would likely become a mineral rights issue with city property owners.
Marietta College Professor Bob Chase explained that the TGC seismic crews were generating sound waves from their "thumper trucks" that help create a 3-D ultrasonic picture showing what rock formations are lying beneath the surface of the earth in this area.
"They're looking for Marcellus or Utica shale deposits," he said. "This is the first seismic testing in Washington County. It may be a bit disconcerting, but this should be good news for the local community."
During a phone call to TGC's Texas headquarters Monday afternoon, a company representative said the seismic testing in Marietta was being performed on behalf of a client in the oil and gas industry. He did not name the client, but said he would have the business contact the Marietta Times.
No calls had been received as of 7:30 p.m. Monday.
According to the company's website, Tidelands Geophysical Company is a seismic acquisition company that has provided high quality seismic data for the oil and gas industry since 1967.
The "vibroseis" vehicles slowed traffic throughout the day along Third Street and Muskingum Drive and traveled with an Ohio Highway Patrol escort.
Ohio Department of Transportation District 10 issued TGC a permit to perform the testing outside of the city limits, and only within the state roads right of way, according to ODOT spokesperson Brenna Slavens.
The company is reportedly continuing the seismic mapping north along Ohio 60 and 821 over the next few days.