Miocene Carbonates of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Mesopotamian Basin: Geodynamic and Eustatic Controls
Binyamin Buchbinder, 1996. "Miocene Carbonates of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Mesopotamian Basin: Geodynamic and Eustatic Controls", Models for Carbonate Stratigraphy from Miocene Reef Complexes of Mediterranean Regions, Evan K. Franseen, Mateu Esteban, William C. Ward, Jean-Marie Rouchy
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Miocene carbonates of the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East areas are characterized by subtropical-temperate rhodalgal or foramol facies. The geological setting of most carbonate occurrences is of platforms or low-energy ramps, whereas reef buildups are usually subordinate. The convergence of Euro-Asian and the African-Arabian plates in Late Oligocene and Miocene times resulted in the narrowing of the Tethys seaway and eventual separation of the Mesopotamian basin from the eastern Mediterranean basin. In Early Miocene (Aquitanian) to early Middle Miocene (Langhian) times, the Mesopotamian basin was occupied by a shallow low-energy ramp. Carbonate sedimentation of locally dolomitized wackestones and packstones, with red algae, mollusks and benthic foraminifers, prevailed during sea-level highstands and evaporites prevailed during lowstands. Three carbonate evaporite cycles are distinguished: (1) Middle Asmari-Kalhur; (2) Euphrates-Dhiban, of Aquitanian Burdigalian age; and (3) Jeribe-Lower Fars of Langhian Serravalian age. Early Miocene carbonates are poorly developed along the southeastern Mediterranean coasts, probably due to terrigenous influx by the pre-Nile river system draining the northern part of the African continent. Low sea levels at the beginning of cycle TB2 may have enhanced land erosion and subsequently siliciclastic deposition in the southeastern Mediterranean. Early Miocene carbonate deposition was limited to Cyprus, southern Turkey and to the Suez-Red Sea basin. Ubiquitous and uniform carbonate deposition throughout the entire Middle East took place in early Middle Miocene (Langhian) times when highstand seas spilled over the barrier separating the eastern Mediterranean from the Mesopotamian basin, depositing the Jeribe Formation in the Mesopotamian basin, the Ziqlag and Terbol Formations in Israel, Lebanon and northwest Syria and the Marmarica Formation, west of the Nile River, in Egypt. Lowstand seas in the Serravalian, coupled by continuous plate convergence, resulted in evaporite deposition in the Mesopotamian basin (Lower Fars) and the Red Sea (Belayim Formation). Carbonate deposits were absent from the Mediterranean during most of the Serravalian because of a surface water salinity decrease and a cooling trend. Late Miocene (Tortonian early Messinian) carbonates are scarce in the Middle East because of widespread tectonic emergence. Continental sedimentation prevailed in the Mesopotamian basin, and evaporitic deposition prevailed in the Red Sea. Patchy development of coral reefs and rhodalgal carbonates took place along the coasts of Israel, northern Sinai, Cyprus and Crete until their demise during the Messinian salinity crisis.
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Miocene carbonates are intensively explored and locally exploited for hydrocarbons in parts of the Mediterranean regions. The outcrop models presented in this publication provide excellent analogs for the highly productive Miocene carbonates from Iran, Iraq and Gulf of Suez and for smaller reservoirs in other localities. Lessons learned in the outcrops of the Mediterranean regions are applicable as well to Miocene carbonate reservoirs. The Miocene outcrops in Mediterranean regions can serve as models for the relationships between carbonate reservoirs, pre-evaporitic basinal sediments, and overlying evaporites. Additionally, the Miocene carbonate rocks exposed in the Mediterranean regions serve as important analogs for ancient carbonate-rimmed basins with or without basinal evaporites.