Don’t anticipate natural gas companies or independent “wildcatters,” for that matter, to come drilling for natural gas in Ashe County or the High County anytime soon, if ever. That’s according to an assistant professor of geology at Appalachian State University.Dr. Sarah Carmichael, who specializes in fluid-rock geochemistry and biomineralogy, said firmly via email on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, the idea that fracking would occur in the Blue Ridge Mountains or High Country is “absurd.”“As someone who studies the origin of shale gas deposits such as the Marcellus and Bakken shales, I’m willing to go on record and state that fracking anywhere in the Blue Ridge and High Country region is absurd,” Carmichael said. “No oil/gas company would frack in metamorphosed rock, because any available hydrocarbons would long have cooked away, leaving only graphite the carbon in pencil lead behind.”Fracking, which is technically termed hydraulic fracturing, is the process of drilling horizontally into shale formations to extract natural gas. It’s a process that’s been the source of much controversy over the past few years across this state and nation.On May 30, 2014, both houses of the N.C. General Assembly passed a bill that would authorize the state to issue fracking permits for oil and gas exploration, opening the door to fracking in North Carolina. Local state representatives Sen. Dan Soucek and Rep. Jonathan Jordan voted to approve Senate Bill 786, which was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory on June 4, 2014.While the recent legislation will have no affect on Ashe County or the High Country, it has the potential to impact some counties in the Piedmont.FrackingHydraulic fracturing enables drills to snake sideways through hundreds of feet, down through elongated shale basins. The process injects water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to burst solid rock and release fossil fuels trapped inside the subterranean formations.Those opposed to the process claim the process contaminates drinking-water supplies.Triassic basinsThe handful of areas in North Carolina designated as ripe for natural gas exploration are all located in the Triassic basins of the Piedmont.The Triassic geologic period began around 250 million years ago and preceded the Jurassic period.There are four Triassic shale basins in North Carolina, all located within the Piedmont, and all of which lie in the Deep and Dan River basins.The Dan River Basin encompasses parts of Stokes and Rockingham counties. The Deep River Basin stretches from Durham, south through Lee County Sanford sub-basin and on into Anson County Wadesboro sub-basin.