Tectonic Evolution and Hydrocarbon Potential of the Arabian Plate
Firyal Bou Rabee1 and A.S. Alsharhan2
1 Kuwait University, Safat, Kuwait
2 Middle East Geological Enterprises, United Arab Emirates
The Arabian Plate was part of the African Plate for most of the Phanerozoic. During the late Permian-early Triassic the Neotethys began to open as the Iranian segment separated and closed in Eurasia leaving a narrow seaway along the line of the present Zagros. Later during the late Tertiary the development of a spreading ridge propagating from the Indian Ocean formed the Gulf of Aden and initiating the opening of the Red Sea rift. The rift extended into the Gulf of Aqba and northwards to the Taurus and Zagros thrust zones effectively forming the periphery of the Arabian Plate. The Zagros is related to slab-pull while the Red Sea is an extension feature consequent on slab-pull. The main Arabian Platform lies in the south and southwestern parts of the plate buried beneath a thick Phanerozoic cover of Cambrian to Recent age. This is a region which has been subject to epeirogenic uplift and warping and evidence of orogenic deformation is lacking. It is characterized by evidence of warping produced by Infracambrian evaporite flow at depth and structures attributed to reactivation of basement faulting. The Phanerozoic sedimentary sequence can be separated into a number sedimentary pulses which can be related to the major phases of tectonic activity, late Precambrian to mid Permian during an intracratonic phase, Mesozoic sediment accumulation during a passive marginal phase and Cenozoic sedimentation occurring during an active margin phase. The Arabian plate region is particularly blessed in the repeated wide distribution of potential source-rocks and reservoirs with excellent regional cap-rocks throughout much of Phanerozoic time. A review of their main characteristics of hydrocarbon habitat is essential in assessing the petroleum potential of the entire region.