Dr. Sebastian Lüning
Black Shale Research
  • Regional distribution of organic matter in time and space
  • Regional depositional black shale models
  • Biostratigraphy, Wheeler Diagrams, Sequence Stratigraphy
  • Weathering Effects on black shales
  • Hydrocarbon Source rocks
  • Multimedia visualisation, training videos


Black Shale Picture Gallery 
click here...


Black Shale Links

black shales sorted...
by region
by stratigraphic age

Gamma-Ray Spectrometry

Weathering of black shales

other sites:
Regional geology of the world



Documentary films about the Silurian black shale of Libya

The main source rock of the North African - Arabian Palaeozoic basins is the Silurian hot shale which is complex in origin and distribution. Two documentary films on DVD are now available, featuring this important source rock, explaining the basic depositional mechanisms and distribution trends.

1) Hunting Hot Shales in Wadi Tanezzuft (produced in 2004, 35 min)

2) Petroleum Geology of Southern Libya (produced in 2007, 4h30 min)

The mixture of animated graphics and Saharan outcrop scenes make this film easily digestible, despite its geological heavyweight. Further content details can be found on the 7C homepage. Here you can also view samples from both films.

The films are suitable for advanced geology students and professional geologists, especially for those working in Palaeozoic petroleum systems in Libya, North Africa and Arabia. Both experienced North African explorers and colleagues with little regional knowledge will find it useful.


Freshly excavated Silurian black shales in the Anti-Atlas of Morocco


And what is a 'black shale' ?

According to the Dictionary of Science and Technology:
"A thinly bedded shale that is rich in carbon, sulfide, and organic material; formed by anaerobic decay of organic matter."

According to the Glossary of Geology (4th ed.):
A dark, thinly laminated carbonaceous shale, exceptionally rich in organic matter (5% or more carbon content) and sulfide (esp. iron sulfide, usually pyrite), and more commonly containing unusual concentrations of certain trace elements (U, V, Cu, Ni). Fossil organisms (principally planktonic and nektonic forms) are commonly preserved as a graphitic or carbonaceous film or as pyrite replacements. Syn.: biopelite (...)

A good summary of oil shales is given by John R. Dyni (USGS).

Yahoo Group for collectors of organic-rich rocks



"Organic matter equivalent in quantity
to the weight of the earth has been created
by living creatures since life originated on this planet".

Philip H. Abelson, 1957


This website is managed by Dr. Sebastian Lüning
Your comments and contributions are most welcome: Sebastian.Luning@gmx.net