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Abstract: Carbonate-Evaporite Cycles in the Miocene to Holocene of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Gregory L. Whittle, A. S. Alsharhan, H. Takezaki

The coastal sabkhas of the United Arab Emirates provide a Holocene analog for the study of evaporite formation. Carbonate-evaporite sequences are common throughout geologic history and, in the Arabian Gulf region in particular, create the reservoir-seal relationship of some of the most prolific hydrocarbon reservoirs in the world. Detailed core description, thin section study and geochemical analysis of Miocene to Holocene cores from the sabkha of Abu Dhabi have been performed in order to characterize modem sabkha diagenetic patterns.

Two primary lithologies, dolomite and anhydrite were identified and subdivided into lithofacies. Based on these lithofacies, deposition is interpreted to have occurred in shallow open marine, lagoonal, tidal channel, tidal/algal flats and supratidal sabkha settings. The primary diagenetic effects are dolomitization, anhydrite formation and leaching. As anhydrite precipitated (in the form of gypsum), the Mg:Ca ratio increased to the point where rapid dolomitization of original limestone occurred. Leaching was pervasive, as subaerial exposure led to the formation of moldic porosity in dolomitized packstones and grainstones. Dolomitic cements in these pores, and leached zones in some of these crystals suggests that leaching continued after dolomitization.

By comparing the Holocene sabkha sediments to ancient ones, insight may be gained into the extent of dolomitization both with depth and distance form the high water mark, the zonation of the stratigraphy from upper supratidal to shallow shelf, the preservation potential of algal mats after burial, the compaction effects after shallow burial, and other diagenetic alterations.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90956©1995 AAPG International Convention and Exposition Meeting, Nice, France