Geochemical signatures of pervasive meteoric diagenesis of Early Miocene syn-rift carbonate platform, Red Sea, NW Saudi Arabia

Khalid Al-Ramadan


Different diagenetic environments have been recognized in the Early Miocene carbonate platform of Musayr Formation in the Red Sea rift area. Early marine diagenesis includes micritisation that occurs as thin envelope around skeletal and non-skeletal grains in low-energy mud dominated facies and isopachous fibrous calcite in high-energy grain-dominated facies. Pervasive meteoric water diagenesis resulted in cementation of the carbonates by coarse-crystalline blocky-drusy calcite and meniscus cements. Depletion of oxygen (avg. –9.08‰), carbon (avg. –1.6‰) isotopes and trace elements concentrations (avg. values of Fe: 1387 ppm; Mn: 1444 ppm; Sr: 419 ppm; Na: 1194 ppm) in conjunction with negative correlation between Mn2+ and oxygen isotope data suggest variable degrees of fluid-rock interactions and pervasive meteoric diagenesis. The formation of meteoric diagenesis in the Musayr Formation can be explained by two subsequent mechanisms: (1) the presence of meteoric lenses during the time of deposition might have been associated with active freshwater input from the hinterland (NE) due to fall in the relative sea level; (2) later uplift episode during Plio-Pleistocene may have also contributed to the pervasive meteoric diagenetic alterations of the carbonates of the Musayr Formation. The first mechanism is supported by the cement stratigraphy where the blocky-drusy cements postdate the meniscus cement. The latter mechanism seems to have more pronounced effect on the alteration of Musayr carbonate sequence by observing the occurence of late cements such as blocky calcite in most of the samples. The impact of meteoric diagenesis on the studied samples suggest that dissolution is less severe than cementation, hence the visible porosity is very low. Understanding the timing of meteoric diagenesis provides useful information about the reservoir quality distribution in syn-rift carbonate sequences.


meteoric diagenesis; carbonate; stable isotopes; trace elements; Red Sea; Miocene

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