Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Shale hydrocarbon reservoirs: Some influences of tectonics and paleogeography during deposition

January 1, 2014

Continuous hydrocarbon accumulations in shale reservoirs appear to be characterized by common paleotectonic and paleogeographic histories and are limited to specific intervals of geologic time. In addition, most North American self-sourced shale correlates with geologic time periods of calcitic seas and greenhouse conditions and with evolutionary turnover of marine metazoans. More knowledge about the relations among these controls on deposition is needed, but conceptual modeling suggests that integrating tectonic histories, paleogeographic reconstructions, and eustatic curves may be a useful means by which to better understand shale plays already in development stages and potentially identify new organic-carbon-rich shale targets suitable for continuous resource development.

Upwelling and anoxic waters are commonly cited to explain the accumulation and preservation, respectively, of marine organic carbon. In addition, and perhaps alternatively, the broad correlation of self-sourced shale with macroevolutionary trends in land plants and marine metazoans suggests that reduced consumption of organic matter by benthos during periods of high terrestrial and marine organic productivity was responsible.

Fundamental to any of the processes that acted during deposition, however, was active tectonism. Basin type can often distinguish self-sourced shale plays from other types of hydrocarbon source rocks. The deposition of North American self-sourced shale was associated with the assembly and subsequent fragmentation of Pangea. Flooded foreland basins along collisional margins were the predominant depositional settings during the Paleozoic, whereas deposition in semirestricted basins was responsible along the rifted passive margin of the U.S. Gulf Coast during the Mesozoic. Tectonism during deposition of self-sourced shale, such as the Upper Jurassic Haynesville Formation, confined (re)cycling of organic materials to relatively closed systems, which promoted uncommonly thick accumulations of organic matter.

Publication Year 2014
Title Shale hydrocarbon reservoirs: Some influences of tectonics and paleogeography during deposition
DOI 10.1306/13441842M1053597
Authors Jennifer D Eoff
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70055517
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Energy Resources Science Center