The sediment currently accumulating in the Cariaco Basin, on the continental shelf of Venezuela, has an elevated organic-carbon content of approximately 5%; is accumulating under O2-depleted bottom-water conditions (SO42- reduction); is composed dominantly of foraminiferal calcite, diatomaceous silica, clay, and silt; and is dark greenish gray in color. Upon lithification, it will become a black shale. Recent studies have established the hydrography of the basin and the level of primary productivity and bottom-water redox conditions. These properties are used to model accumulation rates of Cd, Cr, Cu, Mo, Ni, V, and Zn on the seafloor. The model rates agree closely with measured rates for the uppermost surface sediment.The model is applied to the Meade Peak Phosphatic Shale Member of the Phosphoria Formation, a phosphate deposit of Permian age in the northwest United States. It too has all of the requisite properties of a black shale. Although the deposit is a world-class phosphorite, it is composed mostly of phosphatic mudstone and siltstone, chert, limestone, and dolomite. It has organic-carbon concentrations of up to 15%, is strongly enriched in several trace elements above a terrigenous contribution and is black. The trace-element accumulation defines a mean primary productivity in the photic zone of the Phosphoria Basin as moderate, at 500 g m-2 year-1 organic carbon, comparable to primary productivity in the Cariaco Basin. The source of nutrient-enriched water that was imported into the Phosphoria Basin, upwelled into the photic zone, and supported primary productivity was an O2 minimum zone of the open ocean. The depth range over which the water was imported would have been between approximately 100 and 600 m. The mean residence time of bottom water in the basin was approximately 4 years vs. 100 years in the Cariaco Basin. The bottom water was O2 depleted, but it was denitrifying, or NO3- reducing, rather than SO42- reducing. Published by Elsevier B.V.