Classifying very fine-grained rocks through fabric elements provides information about depositional environments, but is subject to the biases of visual taxonomy. To evaluate the statistical significance of an empirical classification of very fine-grained rocks, samples from Devonian shales in four cored wells in West Virginia and Virginia were measured for 15 variables: quartz, illite, pyrite and expandable clays determined by X-ray diffraction; total sulfur, organic content, inorganic carbon, matrix density, bulk density, porosity, silt, as well as density, sonic travel time, resistivity, and ??-ray response measured from well logs. The four lithologic types comprised: (1) sharply banded shale, (2) thinly laminated shale, (3) lenticularly laminated shale, and (4) nonbanded shale. Univariate and multivariate analyses of variance showed that the lithologic classification reflects significant differences for the variables measured, difference that can be detected independently of stratigraphic effects. Little-known statistical methods found useful in this work included: the multivariate analysis of variance with more than one effect, simultaneous plotting of samples and variables on canonical variates, and the use of parametric ANOVA and MANOVA on ranked data. ?? 1980 Plenum Publishing Corporation.