The Eocene Rusayl Formation, Oman, carbonaceous rocks in calcareous shelf sediments

Environment of deposition, alteration and hydrocarbon potential

H. G. Dill, H. Wehner, J. Kus, R. Botz, Z. Berner, D. Stüben, A. Al-Sayigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Paralic carbonaceous series intercalated among calcareous shelf sediments have seldom been investigated. During the early Eocene, calcareous and siliciclastic sediments were deposited on a wide shelf in front of low-reliefed hinterland in the Al Khawd region in NE Oman. The siliciclastic-calcareous sediments originated from strongly reworked debris of the Arabic Shield. The underlying Semail Ophiolite did not act as a direct source of debris but provided some heat to increase the maturity of carbonaceous rocks and modify the isotope signal of the calcareous minerals in the Rusayl Formation. A multidisciplinary approach involving sedimentology, mineralogy, chemistry, coal petrography and paleontology resulted in the establishment of nine stratigraphic lithofacies units and provides the reader with a full picture from deposition of the mixed carbonaceous-calcareous-siliciclastic rocks to the most recent stages of post-depositional alteration of the Paleogene formations. The calcareous Jafnayn Formation (lithofacies unit I) developed in a subtidal to intertidal regime, influenced episodically by storms. Deepening of the calcareous shelf towards younger series was ground to a halt by paleosols developing on a disconformity (lithofacies unit II) and heralding the onset of the Rusayl Formation. The stratigraphic lithofacies units III and IV reflect mangrove swamps which from time to time were flooded through washover fans from the open sea. The presence of Spinozonocolpites and the taxon Avicennia, which today belong to a coastal marsh vegetational community, furnish palynological evidence to the idea of extensive mangrove swamps in the Rusayl Formation [El Beialy, S.Y., 1998. Stratigraphic and palaeonenvironmental significance of Eocene palynomorphs from the Rusayl Shale Formation, Al Khawd, northern Oman. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 102, 249-258]. During the upper Rusayl Formation (lithofacies units V through VII) algal mats episodically flooded by marine incursions make up a greater deal of the sedimentary record than mangrove swamps. Terra rossa paleosols mark the end of accumulation of organic material (OM) and herald supratidal conditions at the passage of Rusayl Formation into the overlying Seeb Formation. In the subtidal-supratidal cycles of lithofacies unit VIII the terra rossa horizons are thining upwards and become gradually substituted for by deep-water middle ramp sediments of lithofacies unit IX. Framboidal pyrite, (ferroan) dolomite with very little siderite are indicative of an early diagenetic alteration stage I under rather moderate temperatures of formation. During a subsequent stage II, an increase in the temperature of alteration was partly induced by burial and a high heat flow from the underlying Semail Ophiolite. Type-III kerogen originating from higher plants and, in addition, some marine biota gave rise to the generation of small amounts of soluble organic matter during this stage of diagenesis. The average reflectance of humic particles marks the beginning of the oil window and the production index reveals the existence of free hydrocarbons. Further uplift of the Eocene strata and oxidation during stage IIII caused veins of satin spar to form from organic sulfur and pyrite in the carbonaceous material. Lowering of the pH value of the pore fluid led to the precipitation of jarosite and a set of hydrated aluminum sulfates dependant upon the cations present in the wall rocks. AMD minerals (= acid mine drainage) are not very widespread in this carbonaceous series intercalated among calcareous rocks owing to the buffering effect of carbonate minerals. These carbonate-hosted carbonaceous rocks are below an economic level as far as the mining of coal is concerned, but deserves particular attention as source rocks for hydrocarbons in the Middle East, provided a higher stage of maturity is reached.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-123
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
Volume72
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2007

Fingerprint

shelf sediment
lithofacies
Sediments
Eocene
Hydrocarbons
Rocks
hydrocarbon
rock
Pyrites
terra rossa
mangrove
Debris
Minerals
Coal
Sedimentology
Wall rock
Carbonate minerals
paleosol
Petrography
ophiolite

Keywords

  • Carbonaceous rocks
  • Carbonate shelf
  • Eocene
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Oman
  • Rusayl Formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economic Geology
  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Fuel Technology

Cite this

The Eocene Rusayl Formation, Oman, carbonaceous rocks in calcareous shelf sediments : Environment of deposition, alteration and hydrocarbon potential. / Dill, H. G.; Wehner, H.; Kus, J.; Botz, R.; Berner, Z.; Stüben, D.; Al-Sayigh, A.

In: International Journal of Coal Geology, Vol. 72, No. 2, 01.10.2007, p. 89-123.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Dill, H. G.

AU - Wehner, H.

AU - Kus, J.

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AU - Al-Sayigh, A.

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N2 - Paralic carbonaceous series intercalated among calcareous shelf sediments have seldom been investigated. During the early Eocene, calcareous and siliciclastic sediments were deposited on a wide shelf in front of low-reliefed hinterland in the Al Khawd region in NE Oman. The siliciclastic-calcareous sediments originated from strongly reworked debris of the Arabic Shield. The underlying Semail Ophiolite did not act as a direct source of debris but provided some heat to increase the maturity of carbonaceous rocks and modify the isotope signal of the calcareous minerals in the Rusayl Formation. A multidisciplinary approach involving sedimentology, mineralogy, chemistry, coal petrography and paleontology resulted in the establishment of nine stratigraphic lithofacies units and provides the reader with a full picture from deposition of the mixed carbonaceous-calcareous-siliciclastic rocks to the most recent stages of post-depositional alteration of the Paleogene formations. The calcareous Jafnayn Formation (lithofacies unit I) developed in a subtidal to intertidal regime, influenced episodically by storms. Deepening of the calcareous shelf towards younger series was ground to a halt by paleosols developing on a disconformity (lithofacies unit II) and heralding the onset of the Rusayl Formation. The stratigraphic lithofacies units III and IV reflect mangrove swamps which from time to time were flooded through washover fans from the open sea. The presence of Spinozonocolpites and the taxon Avicennia, which today belong to a coastal marsh vegetational community, furnish palynological evidence to the idea of extensive mangrove swamps in the Rusayl Formation [El Beialy, S.Y., 1998. Stratigraphic and palaeonenvironmental significance of Eocene palynomorphs from the Rusayl Shale Formation, Al Khawd, northern Oman. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 102, 249-258]. During the upper Rusayl Formation (lithofacies units V through VII) algal mats episodically flooded by marine incursions make up a greater deal of the sedimentary record than mangrove swamps. Terra rossa paleosols mark the end of accumulation of organic material (OM) and herald supratidal conditions at the passage of Rusayl Formation into the overlying Seeb Formation. In the subtidal-supratidal cycles of lithofacies unit VIII the terra rossa horizons are thining upwards and become gradually substituted for by deep-water middle ramp sediments of lithofacies unit IX. Framboidal pyrite, (ferroan) dolomite with very little siderite are indicative of an early diagenetic alteration stage I under rather moderate temperatures of formation. During a subsequent stage II, an increase in the temperature of alteration was partly induced by burial and a high heat flow from the underlying Semail Ophiolite. Type-III kerogen originating from higher plants and, in addition, some marine biota gave rise to the generation of small amounts of soluble organic matter during this stage of diagenesis. The average reflectance of humic particles marks the beginning of the oil window and the production index reveals the existence of free hydrocarbons. Further uplift of the Eocene strata and oxidation during stage IIII caused veins of satin spar to form from organic sulfur and pyrite in the carbonaceous material. Lowering of the pH value of the pore fluid led to the precipitation of jarosite and a set of hydrated aluminum sulfates dependant upon the cations present in the wall rocks. AMD minerals (= acid mine drainage) are not very widespread in this carbonaceous series intercalated among calcareous rocks owing to the buffering effect of carbonate minerals. These carbonate-hosted carbonaceous rocks are below an economic level as far as the mining of coal is concerned, but deserves particular attention as source rocks for hydrocarbons in the Middle East, provided a higher stage of maturity is reached.

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KW - Hydrocarbons

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