PD Dr. Sebastian Lüning
Black Shale


Lower Turonian black marls
in Mafatma, Tarfaya Basin (S-Morocco)

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Current Projects

Silurian 'hot shales' of
North Africa

Silurian of the Arabian Peninsula &
neighbouring areas

Geology Films
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Silurian 'hot shales' of
SW Libya

Geology of Morocco

Picture Gallery 
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black shales sorted...
by region
by stratigraphic age

Gamma-Ray Spectrometry

Weathering of black shales

other sites:
Regional geology of the world

North Africa Research Group GeoNet

About Sebastian Lüning  
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The Lower Turonian dark marls of Mafatma (Morocco)

The Mafatma Section is located at the Moroccan Atlantic coast in the Tarfaya Basin. The Cenomanian-Turonian here is very organic-rich, with TOC values often exceeding 5%. In the 1980s Shell studied the concept of an open-pit oil shale mine. However, estimated production costs turned out to be uncommercial, so the project was terminated. Today, the unit is of interest for oil companies exploring for hydrocarbons in offshore Morocco.

The Mafatma Section, located at the Atlantic Ocean in the Tarfaya Basin


Overview of section at low-tide. Possible methane chimney in the central right part
of the photograph.

Spectro-gamma-ray measurements


Gamma-ray measurements in this section require patience, good stamina and

Gamma measurements were carried out following pre-marked points with a spacing
of 10 cm. The standard duration of a measurement was 3 minutes. The trenches in
the background were cut by a rock-saw for high-resolution geochemical sampling
and analyses.

Typical carbonate concretion in the black marls.