Oxfordian biofacies and palaeoenvironments of Saudi Arabia

Geraint HUGHES, Mokhtar AL-KHALED, Osman VAROL


The Hanifa Formation in Saudi Arabia consists of a succession of carbonates, over 100 m thick, that were deposited during the Late Jurassic. It consists of two depositional sequences represented by the lower Hawtah Member and an upper Ulayyah Member, respectively. The Hawtah Member is assigned an Early (?) to Middle Oxfordian age, based on brachiopod, nautiloid and coccolith evidence. The Ulayyah Member is assigned a Late Oxfordian age based on ammonite, nautiloid, coccolith and foraminiferal evidence. Detailed study of the microbiofacies and lithology of the late highstand succession of the Ulayyah sequence in 41 cored wells distributed across the Kingdom was aimed at determining the most suitable locations for porous and permeable grainstone accumulation as lithofacies hosts the Hanifa Reservoir elsewhere in the region. A range of palaeoenvironments has been determined, based on integrated biofacies and lithofacies, that include shallow lagoon packstones and foraminiferal dominated grainstones and deep lagoon wackestones and packstones with [i]Clypeina[/i]/[i]Pseudoclypeina [/i]dasyclad algae. In addition, a series of basin-margin, shoal-associated biofacies are present that include stromatoporoid back-bank packstones and grainstones with the branched stromatoporoid [i]Cladocoropsis [/i]mirabilis, bank-crest grainstones with encrusting and domed stromatoporoids. A few wells also proved the presence of intrashelf basin-flank mudstones and wackestones containing sponge spicules, deep marine foraminifera and coccoliths.This study provided control to delimit an intrashelf basin with an irregular margin situated in the east-central part of the Saudi Arabian portion of the Arabian Plate carbonate platform during Late Oxfordian. The basin is flanked by a belt of stromatoporoid banks that pass laterally into a back-bank facies before developing into a lagoon facies. There is no evidence for the shoreline of this basin, although the presence of rare charophytes in the northwest testifies to possible proximity of fluviatile input. The grainstone dominated basin margin facies presents good hydrocarbon reservoir facies and its juxtaposition to intrashelf basinal sediments with potential source rock character provides exciting new prospects in areas hitherto uninvestigated for hydrocarbon reservoirs.


Saudi Arabia; Oxfordian; Hanifa Formation; micropalaeontology; nannopalaeontology; stromatoporoids

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.