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Heavy mineral stratigraphy of the Unayzah Formation and Basal Khuff Clastics (Carboniferous to Permian) of Central Saudi Arabia

By Robert W. Knox, Joshua D. Cocker and John D. Filatoff


A study of heavy mineral assemblages in the Unayzah Reservoir sandstones of central Saudi Arabia has\ud identified successive changes in provenance signature. These define four heavy mineral units that are of\ud regional extent and largely coincident with the four main depositional units defined by previous authors:\ud Unayzah C, Unayzah B, Unayzah A and the Basal Khuff Clastics. Sandstone bodies with anomalous mineral\ud signatures also occur, however, especially within the Unayzah B Member. These are attributed to local\ud supply of sand from pre-Unayzah Paleozoic sandstones exposed on the Central Arabian Arch and on intrabasinal\ud highs.\ud The stratigraphic changes in mineralogy reflect successive developments in the geography and climate of the\ud region and in the pattern of sand sourcing and transport. The Unayzah C sands and the majority of Unayzah\ud B sands were derived from the south but whereas the southerly derived Unayzah C sands appear to have\ud been derived from pre-existing mature sandstones, those of Unayzah B were sourced from a wider range of\ud rock types including crystalline basement. This contrast is interpreted as indicating that a significant hiatus\ud may separate the two units. The Unayzah B sands are also characterised by the common presence of apatite,\ud indicating that the source rocks were relatively unweathered. This observation is compatible with the glacial\ud origin attributed to many of the Unayzah B sediments.\ud A further change in provenance signature takes place at the base the newly recognised ‘un-named middle\ud Unayzah member’, equivalent to the base of Unayzah A of previous authors. This is associated with the onset\ud of red-bed sedimentation throughout the area. Unayzah A sedimentation was terminated by a fall in sea level\ud that led to the formation of a widespread unconformity and to the development of deeply incised valleys along\ud the western basin margin. In most of the study area this unconformity corresponds to the base of the Khuff\ud Formation, but in the east of the area, where the succession is more complete, it is believed to occur within the\ud Unayzah Formation, at a level equivalent to the base of the Upper Gharif Member of Oman.\ud By identifying lateral and vertical changes in sand provenance, heavy mineral analysis provides an important\ud additional tool in the stratigraphic analysis of the Permian sandstone succession of Saudi Arabia, both at the\ud regional scale and wand at the scale of individual reservoir sandstone successions

Topics: Earth Sciences
Publisher: Gulf Petrolink
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

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