Jensen, Howard B. Laramie Energy Research Center, Energy Research and Development Administration, Laramie, Wyoming.
Last reviewed:July 2021
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- Mineral composition
- Physical properties
- Organic composition
- Oil production
- Oil shale units
- World resources
- World developments
- Shale oil
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A sedimentary rock containing solid, combustible organic matter in a mineral matrix. The organic matter, often called kerogen, is largely insoluble in petroleum solvents, but decomposes to yield oil when heated (Fig. 1). Although “oil shale” is used as a lithologic term, it is actually an economic term referring to the rock's ability to yield oil; oil shale appears to be the cheapest source after natural petroleum for large amounts of liquid fuels. No real minimum oil yield or content of organic matter can be established to distinguish oil shale from sedimentary rocks. Additional names given to oil shales include black shale, bituminous shale, carbonaceous shale, coaly shale, cannel shale, cannel coal, lignitic shale, torbanite, tasmanite, gas shale, organic shale, kerosine shale, coorongite, maharahu, kukersite, kerogen shale, algal shale, and “the rock that burns.” See also: Kerogen
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