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Based on the physical and chemical data obtained to date, the Devonian oil shale rock of north Alabama and south-central Tennessee appears to offer an attractive potential for future resource development. The shale rock appears to have formed in a restrictive marine environment which provided opportunity for the accumulation of marine organic matter to form sufficient kerogen. The shale contains approximately 18% to 22% organic matter which is primarily kerogen. The kerogen has a relatively high H:C ratio indicative of an alginite and/or exinite source (Type 1 and Type II kerogen) and a high proportion of alkane and saturated ring hydrocarbons. However, a few samples have low H:C ratio values and are interpreted to have been formed in a shallow water oxidizing environment. Also, there is a possibility that these low H:C values may represent mixtures of terrestrial and marine organic material suggesting lateral facies changes of the rock from marine to near shore depositional environments. Trace metal values for both the whole rock and the shale oil fraction indicate a generally high V:Ni ratio, also indicative of a marine environment. Other trace metal values are in good agreement with data from other Devonian shales. Throughout the north Alabama and south-central Tennessee study area, the average oil yield from the shale is 13.9 gallon per ton. The highest oil yield values were obtained from the middle and upper parts of the shale sequence. Based on the crude oil composition diagram (11), the Alabama-Tennessee shale oil is classified as a aromatic-intermediate oil Estimated reserves of inplace shale oil resources in the principal study area, under less than 200 feet of overburden, exceeds 12.5 billion barrels.
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Characterization and geochemistry of Devonian oil shale North Alabama - South Central Tennessee