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Shales of the Cleveland Basin: a multi-disciplinary field trip to understand the depositional systems, diagenesis and natural fracturing

15 - 16 September 2015
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Event type:
Field trip
Organised by:
Durham University
North Yorkshire Coastal Outcrops
Event status:

Led by:
Jonny Imber, Susie Daniels, Howard Armstrong, and Liam Herringshaw
Cost: £210 (GBP) per person, hotel and evening refreshments not included
Registration: Contact Susie at [email protected]
Registration Deadline:
10 August 2015


Shale-rich sequences can act as source rocks, seals or unconventional reservoirs. Understanding the geology of shale-rich sequences is critical to the success of traditional and unconventional petroleum plays and has attracted increased interest as a result of the shale gas revolution.

Our understanding of shale-rich systems is still in its infancy. Traditional models suggest most shales were deposited in low-energy, low-oxygen, deep-water settings. However our latest research is challenging this paradigm.

This work also highlights the surprising geological heterogeneity associated with thick, shale-rich sequences, including lateral and vertical variations in lithofacies, diagenetic character and natural fracture systems. Predicting this geological diversity in the subsurface is important to sweet-spot identification and depends critically upon a holistic understanding of the sedimentology, ichnology, geochemistry, petrography, structural geology and burial history of shale sequences.

This workshop adopts a holistic approach and presents an integrated field- and laboratory-based investigation of a well-exposed hydrocarbon source rock and unconventional reservoir analogue; the Early Jurassic (Toarcian) Whitby Mudstone Formation, North Yorkshire.

This trip will provide participants with:

  • An overview of traditional and newer, paradigm-shifting depositional models for shale systems.
  • An understanding of how climate, tectonics, and palaeogeography influence the geochemistry, mineralogy and total organic content (TOC) of shale sequences.
  • An understanding of how depositional, ichnological, diagenetic and structural processes influence the petrography, permeability and petrophysics of shale sequences.
  • An overview of natural fracture variability within thick shale sequences.
  • An appreciation of the lithological and mechanical controls on natural fracture development within shale reservoirs (i.e. mechanical stratigraphy).
  • An introduction to characterisation of natural fractures, quantitative fracture analysis and fracture modelling in heterogeneous shale sequences.

Programme outline

Tuesday 15 September, Low tide at 12:06 (BST)

Walk from Staithes to Port Mulgrave
(Staithes Sandstone - Cleveland Ironstone - Whitby Mudstone Fms)
Early evening discussion

Wednesday 16 September, Low tide at 12:36 (BST) :

Whitby Harbour Fault followed by fracturing at Saltwick Nab


To sign up, please contact Susie at [email protected]

Other contributors

Contributions to field trip documentation content from João Trabucho-Alexandre, Ken McCaffrey & Andy Aplin.

Further information