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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 88, No. 4 (April 2004), P. 515-538.

Copyright copy2004. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Stratigraphy, lithofacies distribution, and petroleum potential of the Triassic strata of the northern Arabian plate

F. N. Sadooni,1 A. S. Alsharhan2

1Department of Geology, University of United Arab Emirates, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates; [email protected]
2Department of Geology, University of United Arab Emirates, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates; [email protected]


F. N. Sadooni has been an associate professor and chairman of the Department of Geology, United Arab Emirates University, since September 2001. He received a Ph.D. in petroleum geology from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, in 1978. After working with Iraq National Oil Company as a senior exploration geologist for 13 years, Fadhil joined Yarmouk University, Jordan, in 1991 and then worked as a consultant petroleum geologist in Auckland, New Zealand. In 1998, he joined the University of Qatar as assistant professor before moving to the United Arab Emirates University. His research interests include carbonate reservoir characterization and evaporites. He is a member of the AAPG.

A. S. Alsharhan is professor of geology at the United Arab Emirates University. He received a Ph.D. in petroleum geology from the University of South Carolina in 1985. He has authored and published more than 80 scientific papers. He coauthored Sedimentary basins and petroleum geology of the Middle East (1997) with A. E. Nairn and Hydrogeology of an arid region: Arabian Gulf and adjacent areas (2001) with Z. Rizk, A. E. Nairn, D. Bakhit, and S. Al-Hajari. He coedited Quaternary deserts and climate change (1998) with K. W. Glennie, G. Whittle, and C. Kendall and Middle East models of Jurassic/Cretaceous carbonate systems (2000) with R. W. Scott. His research interests include Holocene coastal sabkhas of the Arabian Gulf region and the geology and hydrocarbon habitats of the Middle East and North Africa. He is a member of the AAPG, SEPM, the International Association of Sedimentologists, and the Geological Society of London.


We are grateful to Andrew Horbury for a discussion on the sequence stratigraphy of northern Iraq. The manuscript benefited considerably from extensive revisions by D. E. Eby, K. W. Glennie, C. G. Kendall, A. E. M. Nairn, and R. W. Scott. A. Fowler read the final version and made many useful amendments, and Hamdi Kandeel drafted the figures. Varda Arad provided some valuable archives for the study.


Triassic strata of the northern part of the Arabian plate mark the establishment of the Neo-Tethys passive margin. This ocean first opened in the western part of the Mediterranean region directly after the Hercynian orogeny. The strata were deposited on a shallow carbonate platform surrounded by clastic-evaporitic lagoons and continental fluvial and eolian settings. The rocks are divided between continental clastics (such as the Budra and the Ga'ara formations), continental-marine clastics and evaporites (such as the Mohilla, Abu Ruweis, Beduh, and Baluti formations) and epicontinental marine facies (such as the Saharonim, Salit, and Kurra Chine formations). These settings are comparable to those of the German Triassic and have matching lithofacies and eustatic sea level changes. The succession has been divided into four ldquohigh-frequencyrdquo sequences dominated by highstand systems tract carbonates and highstand systems tractndashlowstand systems tract evaporites and clastics: the Mulussa Formation, the Kurra Chine dolomite and oolitic limestones, the clastics in the EuphratesndashAnah graben in Syria and Iraq, and the Triassic buildups in the northern parts of the Levant form attractive hydrocarbon reservoirs when they are overlain by the TriassicndashJurassic evaporite sequence and are in communication with Silurian source rocks. In Syria, the Kurrachine Formation contains both source and reservoir rocks. On the Aleppo plateau, this formation is believed to lie at the beginning of the thermal maturation window, whereas in the areas of Jebbissa, Soukhne, and Souedie, it is in the mature or overmature windows. The Triassic strata produced fair amounts of light oil, gas, and condensates from some fields in Syria and Iraq with a high potential of gas and condensate accumulations in the Levant region.

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