Shell and Oxford University signed a major collaborative research agreement in 2012 in which Shell generously undertook to support fundamental research into the deposition, diagenesis, deformation and geochemistry of mudrocks. This £5.9M investment is for an initial period of 5 years, and allows a major expansion of research activity into the underpinning science behind the exploration for and development of earth resources in the Department of Earth Sciences (the Earth Resources Initiative). Our longer term intention is to build on this initial support from Shell to establish a major research focus for the Department whose primary aim is to seek novel ways for quantifying and unravelling the complex and often coupled processes that give rise to the accumulation of earth resources such as hydrocarbons, water, and mineral deposits, and are critical for the safe disposal of waste fluids or CO2.