AAPG Middle East Region Geoscience Technology Workshop:
3rd Edition Carbonate Reservoirs of the Middle East

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3D Digital Outcrop Modeling of the Mixed Clastic-Carbonate Miocene Deposits of Dam Formation, Eastern Saudi Arabia


The Miocene Epoch in the Arabian Plate was tectonically unstable, as evidenced by the opening of the Red Sea and the following eastward movement of the Arabian Plate and the collision with Eurasia. All these tectonic events led to regional changes in the depositional system in the area. This complexity in the tectonics caused complexity in the stratigraphy and increasing of the heterogeneity. The Burdigalian mixed siliciclastic-carbonate deposits of the Dam Formation are well exposed in Al-Lidam area, Eastern Saudi Arabia. The good exposure of the Dam Formation in this area provides an excellent opportunity to apply the 3D digital outcrop modeling approach. A new method of digital outcrop modeling has been conducted in this study utilizing high-resolution digital camera. The instruments utilized for the collection of the data includes differential GPS, ground control points and digital camera. The acquired data were processed using Reality Capture software to produce the georeferenced digital model of the Dam Formation outcrop at 2mm photographic resolution. Then, in-house software has been utilized to interpret the digital model and to enhance the description and interpretation of the depositional system of the Dam Formation. The results of this work showed that the mixed clastic-carbonate Dam Formation was deposited in a shallow marine carbonate platform. The depositional subenvironments of the Dam carbonates range from subtidal, intertidal, supratidal, shoreface, foreshore, backshore, skeletal mounds, patch reefs to tidal channels. On the other hand, siliciclastics are restricted to intertidal to supratidal sand and mud flats, and estuarine channels. The results of this work if integrated with other outcrops from the same area and from other localities might provide an accurate regional correlation of the Dam Formation. Also, the Dam Formation is correlatable to Miocene reservoirs in both Iran and Iraq. Therefore, studying its lithologic heterogeneity in small and regional scale with high resolution could help in further work related to reservoir heterogeneity and architecture prediction.