An enhanced understanding of the Basinal Bowland shale in Lancashire (UK), through microtextural and mineralogical observations

Anne-Laure Fauchille, Lin Ma, Ernest Rutter, Mike Chandler, Peter Lee, Kevin Taylor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Variability in the Lower Bowland shale microstructure is investigated here, for the first time, from the centimetre to the micrometre scale using optical and scanning electron microscopy (OM, SEM), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and Total Organic Carbon content (TOC) measurements. A significant range of micro-textures, organic-matter particles and fracture styles was observed in rocks of the Lower Bowland shale, together with the underlying Pendleside Limestone and Worston Shale formations encountered the Preese Hall-1 Borehole, Lancashire, UK. Four micro-texture types were identified: unlaminated quartz-rich mudstone; interlaminated quartz- and pyrite-rich mudstone; laminated quartz and pyrite-rich mudstone; and weakly-interlaminated calcite-rich mudstone. Organic matter particles are classified into four types depending on their size, shape and location: multi-micrometre particles with and without macropores: micrometre-size particles in cement and between clay minerals; multi-micrometre layers; and organic matter in large pores. Fractures are categorized into carbonate-sealed fractures; bitumen-bearing fractures; resin-filled fractures; and empty fractures. We propose that during thermal maturation, horizontal bitumen-fractures were formed by overpressuring, stress relaxation, compaction and erosional offloading, whereas vertical bitumen-bearing, resin-filled and empty fractures may have been influenced by weak vertical joints generated during the previous period of veining. For the majority of samples, the high TOC (>2 wt%), low clay content (<20 wt%), high proportion of quartz (>50 wt%) and the presence of a multi-scale fracture network support the increasing interest in the Bowland Shale as a potentially exploitable oil and gas source. The microtextural observations made in this study highlight preliminary evidence of fluid passage or circulation in the Bowland Shale sequence during burial.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
    Early online date27 Jul 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Bowland shale
    • Variability
    • Micro-texture
    • Organic matter
    • Fractures
    • Microscopy
    • characterization


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