The state of Ohio has quietly dumped its top geologist.
Larry Wickstrom has been replaced as head of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geological Survey. He also served as the state geologist.
His departure was reported on Wednesday by the Athens News.
Wickstrom was ousted from his post around May 10, although ODNR made no announcement. He remains an ODNR employee.
Veteran ODNR staffer Mac Swinford has been named interim chief, and a national search for Wickstrom's replacement is under way.
ODNR spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle earlier this week told the Beacon Journal that the agency does not comment on internal personnel matters and will not comment on Wickstrom's departure.
The agency released an internal email from Director James Zehringer, thanking Wickstrom for his 29 years of service to ODNR.
Wickstrom, in a May 21 email obtained by the Beacon Journal, described his departure: "I guess the best way to put it is that I have a different vision of what a state geological survey should do than the current ODNR administration."
The email offered no further explanation.
Contacted by the media, he declined additional comment on his ouster.
Wickstrom said he was preparing his files for his successor and putting his retirement package from the state together.
He said he was looking forward to an unspecified job in gthe private sector.
His departure triggered questions from anti-fracking activists around the state.
According to some, the timing was unusual with Ohio in the midst of a much-hailed Utica shale boom that promised jobs and economic development.
Editor Terry Smith of the Athens News raised questions about whether Wickstrom's departure was tied to unhappiness in some circles over a revised state map of potential drilling hot spots in the Utica shale in eastern Ohio.
That map had a big impact of shale development in some parts of Ohio, Smith says.
Click here to read Smith's story.
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.