Preservation of Pre-Rift Sediments and Development of Accommodation Zones During the Initial Phase of Red Sea Rifting
Hussein G. Aly Fouda*, Paul G. Nicholson, A. Kent Norton, Robert E. Tubbs, and Andrew Jollands
Successful exploration in the Red Sea requires a thorough understanding of the structural controls on reservoir and source-rock distribution. Pre-rift reservoirs are one major exploration objective, mainly comprising fluvial to shallow-marine clastics of Early Eocene, Paleocene and Cretaceous age. In the giant October and Ramadan fields in the Gulf of Suez, hydrocarbons sourced from the Upper Cretaceous “Brown Limestone” are produced from pre-rift reservoirs ranging from Cretaceous to pre-Carboniferous in age. Across the Red Sea region, the present-day distribution of pre-rift reservoirs and source rocks is controlled by both depositional paleogeography and the subsequent post-depositional structural history. The underlying Neoproterozoic basement fabric exerts a fundamental structural control on preservation of pre-rift sediments. During the initial rifting phase in the Late Eocene to Oligocene, pre-rift sediments were preserved in hanging wall blocks formed by extensional reactivation of two major sets of sub-vertical lineaments: Najd shears trending (azimuth) 125–130o, and faults trending N-S. Along the Saudi Arabian coastal plain, pre-rift sediments are found in hanging walls located in the SW quadrant of the intersection of these two sets of basement lineaments.
Accommodation zones in the Red Sea region formed during the initial rift phase, and their location and trend is again related to the underlying Neoproterozoic basement fabric. The orientation of the Duwi accommodation zone in the northern Egyptian Red Sea is directly linked to the underlying Najd shear trend. Similarly, the newly identified Jeddah accommodation zone in Saudi Arabia (mapped from 2-D seismic data) follows the same Najd shear trend observed in the surrounding basement rocks. Discovery and analysis of the Jeddah accommodation zone will enable more accurate structural mapping of pre-rift fault blocks in the subsurface, together with more accurate prediction of potential syn-rift (Miocene) reservoirs.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90077©2008 GEO 2008 Middle East Conference and Exhibition, Manama, Bahrain