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Oligo-Miocene (‘Maikopian’) deposits are considered the main source rocks in the Black Sea area, although only a few source-rock data are available. Geochemical logs from nine wells are used together with age constraints provided by calcareous nannoplankton, well and seismic data to determine vertical and lateral changes of the source potential. Oligocene rocks overlie Eocene deposits with a major unconformity on the western Black Sea shelf in Bulgaria. A west–east-trending erosional structure (the Kaliakra canyon) developed during Lower Oligocene time and was filled with Oligo-Miocene deposits. Potential source rocks are present in different stratigraphic units, but the most prolific intervals accumulated during time intervals when the isolation of the Paratethys resulted in oxygen-depleted, brackish environments with high bioproductivity. These include Lower Solenovian rocks related to blooms of calcareous nannoplankton, which form an extensive layer outside the Kaliakra canyon. This unit hosts a good potential to generate oil and gas. Diatom-rich, very good oil-prone source rocks accumulated during a second isolation event in the Kozakhurian. Thick sections of these diatom-rich rocks occur within the canyon and are present in thin layers outside of it. High productivity of siliceous organisms is attributed to upwelling within the canyon. All studied units are thermally immature on the shelf.

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