Cretaceous Black Shales Workshop

December 4-6, 1985 – Denver, Colorado
Convener: Michael Arthur, Philip Meyers



The problem of the origin of widespread depositional episodes of organic carbon in relatively deep marine sequences is among the most perplexing problems facing the community of “paleoenvironmentalists”, and because of its potential economic importance as well. The synthesis and discussion of data from DSDP relating to the black shale problem and identification of key questions to be answered by further drilling and by multidisciplinary studies of core material were the major purpose of this workshop.


In general terms, the workshop participants strongly supported proposals to drill into and recover Cretaceous black shales in all major ocean basins, but with drilling designed to attack specific problems such as the paleodepth and timing of Cretaceous episodes of organic carbon preservation.  These proposals represent a more mature phase of investigation that has developed as the result of studies of available core material in sites that were drilled largely for other reasons than to specifically address the “black shale” problem.  We emphasize that studies of Holocene-Neogene environments in which organic carbon-rich sediments have formed are also necessary for a better understanding of black shales in general.  Therefore, workshop participants expressed strong support for paleoenvironmental drilling transects along the Peru margin (trades-related upwelling) and Oman (Monsoonal upwelling) for example.  A large part of discussion at the workshop also focused on the efficacy of various analytical methods, and, particularly, the need for intensive interdisciplinary studies of black shale sequences.




Workshop Report (pdf)
Geotimes Article (pdf)


Organizing Committee


Michael Arthur, University of Rhode Island
Philip Meyers, University of Michigan