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Shale-gas potential of the mid-carboniferous bowland-hodder unit in the cleveland basin (Yorkshire), central Britain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-75
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of petroleum geology
Issue number1
DatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


The shale-gas potential of mid-Carboniferous mudrocks in the Bowland-Hodder unit in the Cleveland Basin (Yorkshire, northern England) was investigated through the analysis of a cored section from the uppermost part of the unit in the Malton-4 well using a multidisciplinary approach. Black shales are interbedded with bioturbated and bedded sandstones, representing basinal-offshore to prodelta - delta-front lithofacies. The total organic carbon (TOC) content of the shales ranges from 0.37 to 2.45 wt %. Rock-Eval pyrolysis data indicate that the organic matter is mainly composed of Type III kerogen with an admixture of Type II kerogen. Tmax (436-454°C), 20S/(20S+20R) C29 sterane ratios, and vitrinite reflectance values indicate that organic matter is in the mid- to late- mature (oil) stage with respect to hydrocarbon generation. Sedimentological and geochemical redox proxies suggest that the black shales were deposited in periodically oxic-dysoxic and anoxic bottom waters with episodic oxic conditions, explaining the relatively low TOC values. The Rock-Eval parameters indicate that the analysed mudrocks have a limited shale-gas potential. However, burial and thermal history modelling, and VRr data from other wells in the region, indicate that where they are more deeply-buried, the Bowland-Hodder shales will be within the gas window with VRr > 1.1 % at depths in excess of 2000 m. Therefore although no direct evidence for a high shale-gas potential in the Cleveland Basin has been found, this cannot be precluded at greater depths especially if deeper horizons are more organic rich.

    Research areas

  • Biomarker characterization, Black shale, Carboniferous, Cleveland Basin, England, Organic matter, Shale gas, Thermal maturity, Vitrinite reflectance, Yorkshire



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