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Petrography and geochemistry of Palaeozoic quartz-rich sandstones from Saudi Arabia: implications for provenance and chemostratigraphy

  • Alexander Bassis
  • Matthias Hinderer
  • Guido Meinhold
Original Paper

Abstract

The Arabian Peninsula hosts a thick Palaeozoic succession, ranging from the Cambrian through the Permian. It not only contains deposits of the two major Palaeozoic glaciations but also holds both the major Palaeozoic hydrocarbon source and reservoir rocks. In addition, Palaeozoic sandstones serve as important aquifers. The succession is dominated by highly mature quartz arenites, as seen in thin sections. It is starved of fossils and very uniform in lithology. In order to better understand provenance, tectonic setting and stratigraphic relationships, the petrography as well as major and trace element geochemistry of sandstones were studied. Samples were taken from two study areas in southern (Wajid area) as well as central and northern (Tabuk area) Saudi Arabia. The dataset we present here is the first comprehensive study to cover the entire Palaeozoic succession in both the southern and northern part of the Arabian Peninsula. The collisional signal from some samples is a relic from the last stages of the amalgamation of Gondwana, carried into the basin by glaciogenic sediments. Major and trace element geochemistry indicate the Neoproterozoic basement of the nearby Arabian Shield as the most likely source for the detritus. Tectonic discrimination diagrams suggest that deposition of sandstones took place in an intracratonic setting, which is in accordance with the established model for the evolution of the Arabian Plate. An influx of fresh material, probably sourced from the Shield, did occur in the late Palaeozoic units of the Wajid area but did not reach the Tabuk area. Geochemical methods have shown some success in characterising the provenance of both study areas but were unable to reliably assess sedimentary recycling. A (meta-)sedimentary source for the Palaeozoic sandstones could therefore neither be proven nor refuted. Multivariate cluster and principal component analysis of geochemical data revealed significant differences between the two study areas.

Keywords

Saudi Arabia Palaeozoic Sandstone Provenance Petrography Geochemistry Chemostratigraphy 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study has been enabled by the logistical support of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and DornierConsulting (DCo) in Riyadh. We thank Randolf Rausch (Riyadh) and the entire GIZ/DCo staff for their assistance and support during the 2013 field campaign and their interest in this study. We further want to thank Irina Ottenbacher (Göttingen) for her invaluable help during sample preparation. Nora Groschopf (Mainz) and Gerald Hartmann (Göttingen) are thanked for XRF analysis and Klaus Simon (Göttingen) for ICP-MS analysis. Sample analysis has been partially financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG grant ME 3882/4-1). We furthermore want to thank John S. Armstrong-Altrin (Mexico City) and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful suggestions and comments, which greatly helped to improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

12517_2016_2412_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (749 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 749 kb)

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Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Bassis
    • 1
  • Matthias Hinderer
    • 1
  • Guido Meinhold
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Applied GeosciencesDarmstadt Technical UniversityDarmstadtGermany
  2. 2.Department of Sedimentology and Environmental Geology, Geoscience CenterUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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