Microstructures of Early Jurassic (Toarcian) shales of Northern Europe

M. E. Houben*, Auke Barnhoorn, L. Wasch, J. Trabucho-Alexandre, C. J. Peach, M. R. Drury

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


The Toarcian (Early Jurassic) Posidonia Shale Formation is a possible unconventional gas source in Northern Europe and occurs within the Cleveland Basin (United Kingdom), the Anglo-Paris Basin (France), the Lower Saxony Basin and the Southwest Germany Basin (Germany), and the Roer Valley Graben, the West Netherlands Basin, Broad Fourteens Basin, the Central Netherlands Basin and the Dutch Central Graben in The Netherlands. Outcrops can be found in the United Kingdom and Germany. Since the Posidonia Shale Formation does not outcrop in the Netherlands, sample material suitable for experimental studies is not easily available. Here we have investigated lateral equivalent shale samples from six different locations across Northern Europe (Germany, The Netherlands, The North sea and United Kingdom) to compare the microstructure and composition of Toarcian shales. The objective is to determine how homogeneous or heterogeneous the shale deposits are across the basins, using a combination of Ion Beam polishing, Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-ray diffraction. The work presented here shows that the Toarcian shales of Northern Europe display considerable homogeneity in mineralogy and microstructure in the different investigated samples and formations, where the largest variability is the carbonate content ranging from almost zero up to 80%. We conclude that the outcrop locations in Germany and the United Kingdom are suitable analogues with respect to their mineralogy and microstructure for experimental studies on the Posidonia Shale in the Dutch subsurface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-89
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Clay microstructure
  • Ion-beam polishing
  • Posidonia Shale
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy
  • Whitby Mudstone
  • X-ray diffraction


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