Genesis and characterization of dolomite, Arab-D reservoir, Ghawar field, Saudi Arabia

David Cantrell, Peter Swart, Royal Hagerty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


This study reports the results of an investigation into the nature, origin and significance of linear dolomite trends across the Arab-D reservoir in Ghawar field. In the course of this study, three distinct types of dolomite were identified based on petrographic and geochemical criteria: fabric-preserving (FP), non-fabric-preserving (NFP) and baroque dolomite. Fabric-preserving (FP) dolomite is very finely crystalline dolomite in which details of the original limestone fabric are usually well preserved. Beds of FP dolomite typically occur as thin, sheet-like or stratigraphic layers that are always intimately associated with the overlying anhydrite. This dolomite is interpreted to have formed very early in the diagenetic history of the sediment, by dense, highly evaporated magnesium-rich brines associated with the overlying anhydrite. In contrast, NFP dolomite is a medium crystalline, non-baroque dolomite in which all traces of the original limestone fabric have been obliterated. This dolomite also typically occurs as stratigraphic beds, although it is not restricted to the uppermost part of the Arab-D but occurs throughout the reservoir. The NFP dolomite is the most common type present in the reservoir, and is interpreted on the basis of its general geochemical similarity to the FP dolomites to have mostly formed from hypersaline fluids, although some NFP dolomite is thought to represent a transitional form with the third dolomite type, baroque dolomite. Strontium isotopic ratios suggest that both the FP and most of the NFP dolomite formed very early, at or shortly after deposition of the original sediment. The third type of dolomite, baroque, is a coarsely crystalline dolomite with "saddle-shaped" crystals displaying undulose extinction in thin section. It is rare in the reservoir and appears to be limited to wells that contain abnormally thick sections of dolomite; in extreme cases, baroque dolomite is vertically pervasive. Geochemically, baroque dolomite is distinctive with high iron and very low oxygen isotopic compositions, and is interpreted to have formed from high temperature fluids during burial diagenesis. These fluids are suggested to have ascended up into the reservoir from depth along a fault/facture system, relatively late in the diagenetic history of the rock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-36
Number of pages26
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geology


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