The process in the rock cycle which forms shale is compaction, which refers to the process by which a sediment progressively loses its porosity due to the effects of loading. This forms part of the process of lithification. When a layer of sediment is originally deposited, it contains an open framework of particles with the pore space being usually filled with water. As more sediment is deposited above the layer, the effect of the increased loading is to increase the particle-to-particle stresses resulting in porosity reduction primarily through a more efficient packing of the particles and to a lesser extent through elastic compression and pressure solution. The fine particles that compose shale can remain suspended in water long after the larger and denser particles of sand have deposited. Shales are typically deposited in very slow moving water and are often found in lakes and lagoonal deposits, in river deltas, on floodplains and offshore from beach sands. They can also be deposited on the continental shelf, in relatively deep, quiet water.
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