2. n. [Shale Gas]
A measure of the thermal maturity of organic matter. This analytical method was developed to rank the maturity of coals and is now used in other rocks to determine whether they have generated hydrocarbons or could be effective source rocks. The reflectivity of at least 30 individual grains of vitrinite from a rock sample is measured under a microscope. The measurement is given in units of reflectance, % Ro, with typical values ranging from 0% Ro to 3% Ro, with values for gas-generating source rocks typically exceeding 1.5%. Strictly speaking, the plant material that forms vitrinite did not occur prior to Ordovician time, although geochemists have established a scale of equivalent vitrinite reflectance for rocks older than Ordovician.