A fine-grained detrital sedimentary rock, formed by the consolidation (esp. by compression) of clay, silt, or mud. It is characterized by finely laminated structure, which imparts a fissility approximately parallel to the bedding, along which the rock breaks readily into thin layers and that is commonly most conspicuous on weathered surfaces, and by an appreciable content of clay minerals and detrital quartz; a thinly laminated or fissile claystone, siltstone, or mudstone. It normally contains at least 50% silt, with 35% clay or fine mica fraction and 15% chemical or authigenic materials. Shale is generally soft but sufficiently indurated so that it will not fall apart on wetting; it is less firm than argillite and slate, commonly has a splintery fracture and a smooth feel, and is easily scratched. Its color may be red, brown, black, or gray.