The collection of papers in this volume is a direct result of the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Research Symposium on "Thermal History of Sedimentary Basins: Methods and Case Histories" held as part of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Annual Convention in New Orleans in March 1985. The original goal of the sym- posium was to provide a forum where specialists from a variety of dis- ciplines could present their views of methods that can be used to study the thermal history of a sedimentary basin or an important portion of a basin. An explicit part of that goal was to illustrate each method by presentation of a case history application. The original goal is addressed by the chapters in this volume, each of which emphasizes a somewhat different approach and gives field data in one way or another to illustrate the practical useful- ness ofthe method. The significance of our relative ignorance of the thermal conductivities of sedimentary rocks, especially shales, in efforts to understand or model sedimentary basin thermal histories and maturation levels is a major thrust of the chapter by Blackwell and Steele. Creaney focuses on variations in kerogen composition in source rocks of different depositional environments and the degree to which these chem- . ically distinct kerogens respond differently to progressive burial heating.