West Lothian Oil-Shale Formation
West Lothian Oil-Shale Formation is part of the Strathclyde Group.
The formation name was established by Chisholm et al. (1989).
The West Lothian Oil-Shale Formation is characterised by seams of oil shale in a cyclical sequence predominantly of pale coloured sandstones interbedded with grey siltstones and mudstones. Subordinate lithologies are coal, ostracod-rich limestone/dolostone, sideritic ironstone and marine beds, including bioclastic limestones with rich and relatively diverse faunas. Thick pale green-grey or grey argillaceous beds supposedly containing derived volcanic-detrital calcareous mudstone are present.
The environment of deposition was similar to that of the Aberlady Formation, but with oil shales formed in large freshwater lakes, rich in algae and other organic matter.
The type area is West Lothian, where a composite section of the formation has been built up from numerous boreholes drilled to prove the oil-shale seams. The base is well exposed in the Water of Leith near Redhall in Edinburgh (see Chisholm and Brand, 1994, p. 100, localities 1–4; Browne et al., 1999, fig. 2, col. 9). Most parts of the formation are partly exposed on the coast from South Queensferry to Blackness (NT 13 78 to 05 80).
Lower and upper boundaries
The base of the formation is taken at the base of the Humbie Marine Band, the local equivalent of the lowest Macgregor Marine Band and is underlain by the predominantly sandstone, mudstone and siltstone of the Gullane Formation (Figure 6, Column 4D). The formation is laterally equivalent to the Aberlady Formation to the east, and to the Kinghorn Volcanic Formation to the north. It is also laterally equivalent to part of the Bathgate Hills Volcanic Formation to the west.
Distribution and regional correlation
Age and biostratigraphical characterisation
Visean (Asbian to Brigantian). Miospores of the TC, NM and VF zones of Neves et al. (1973) are represented. The Macgregor Marine bands at the base of the formation have rich and distinctive faunas including Punctospirifer scabricosta, Pteronites angustatus and Streblopteria redesdalensis. Wilson (1952) described the B Zone ammonoid Beyrichoceratoides redesdalensis from the Cove Lower Marine Band, but this bed cannot be correlated with certainty with the Humbie Marine Band at the base of the Gullane Formation. The Granton ‘shrimp-bed’ within the formation on the shore north of Edinburgh is the locality where the soft structures of a conodont animal were first described (Briggs et al., 1983).
- Chisholm, J I, McAdam, A D, and Brand, P J. 1989. Litho-stratigraphical classification of Upper Devonian and Lower Carboniferous rocks in the Lothians. British Geological Survey Technical Report, WA/89/26
- Chisholm, J I, and Brand, P J. 1994. Revision of the late Dinantian sequence in Edinburgh and West Lothian. Scottish Journal of Geology, Vol. 30, 97–104
- Browne, M A E, Dean, M T, Hall, I H S, McAdam, A D, Monro, S K, and Chisholm, J I. 1999. A lithostratigraphical framework for the Carboniferous rocks of the Midland Valley of Scotland. British Geological Survey Research Report, RR/99/07
- Neves, R, Gueinn, K J, Clayton, G, Ioannides, N S, Neville, R S W, and Kruszewska, K. 1973. Palynological correlations within the Lower Carboniferous of Scotland and northern England. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol. 69, 23–70
- Wilson, H H. 1952. The Cove Marine Bands in East Lothian and their relation to the Ironstone Shale and Limestone of Redesdale, Northumberland. Geological Magazine, Vol. 89, 305–319
- Briggs, D E G, Clarkson, E N K, and Aldridge, R J. 1983. The conodont animal. Lethaia, Vol. 16, 1–14