Anyone with half a pulse is probably aware of the oil boom in the United States. Names like the Bakken, Permian, and Eagle Ford shales are popping up all over the place. Pretty soon, if Halcon Resources (NYSE:HK) and Goodrich Petroleum (NASDAQOTH:GDPM) have it their way, the Tuscaloosa Marine shale will be on that list as well. Now that these two, along with Encana (NYSE:ECA), have figured out how to access this shale formation economically, it's likely only a matter of time until production starts to surge.

Goodrich delivered promising well results earlier this year, while Apollo Global Management plans to invest up to $400 million in Halcon to specifically develop this particular oil patch. So now is a good time for investors to get familiar with the Tuscaloosa Marine shale and how it could impact each company.

The following slideshow is a crash course on everything Tuscaloosa Marine shale. Check it out to learn about why this formation has flown under the radar for so long, how it could make or break Halcon and Goodrich, and what we can realistically expect from each of these companies in quite possibly the next big thing in the American oil boom.