The evolution of the nitrogen and boron content of shales during diagenesis and anchimetamorphism was studied in the Carboniferous rocks of Donbas by means of the bulk rock chemical analysis and the XRD quantification of mineral composition, aided by CEC and EGME sorption measurements. The contributions of the organic-bound N and B were taken into account, based on the literature data (B) and on the relationship established in the course of this study (N). 28–98% of the total N and 80–100% of the total B are contained in the mineral fraction of the investigated shales.

The mineral nitrogen is located mostly in illite and accounts for 3 to 64% of the sites available for its fixation in 1Md illite. The fixation of N by illite seems to diminish in the course of diagenesis, but additional fixation occurs in newly formed 2M1 illite during the anchimetamorphic stage. The volume of N contained in illite in most samples greatly surpasses the N available locally from the organic matter contained in shale. Modelling indicates that the measured level of N for K substitution in illite corresponds to the capture in 30 vol.% of shale of all N released in a basin containing 5 vol.% of coal.

Boron is held predominantly by the 1Md fraction (illite+smectite). During diagenesis boron is redistributed into the 1Md illite, and during anchimetamorphism it is released from the 1Md illite and incorporated into new 2M1 illite. No indication of the net enrichment of pore water in B due to the clay alteration process was found.

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