Type Basin: Gulf of Suez
Published:January 01, 1994
This review of the geology and hydrocarbon potential of the Gulf of Suez makes sense on two counts. First, a knowledge of rifts is essential to an understanding of the tectonics of the earth and second, hydrocarbon exploration and production in the gulf have been highly successful producing a vast amount of subsurface geological data. This has greatly improved the geologic understanding of the Gulf of Suez rift basin.
Historically, from a petroleum standpoint, the earliest Egyptians no doubt used tar from seeps to caulk boa.ts, grease wagon wheels, etc. The presence of fault controlled seeps, onshore, led to the current offshore petroleum exploration efforts.
Much has been learned about rift behavior during exploration of the Gulf of Suez and many pet theories have been discarded and others developed during the process. Strike slip movement, originally thought to be 50–80 mi, is now considered to be insignificant.
Until quite recently, source rocks were considered to be the Miocene Globigerina marls whose presence is restricted to the rift. Modern studies have shown that instead the dominant oil source is the Late Cretaceous (Campanian) "Brown Limestone" Member of the Sudr Formation. This formation is regionally extensive and rifting had no depositional effect other than to cause it to be buried deeply enough to reach thermal maturity.
Figures & Tables
Interior Rift Basins
Not only are rift basins the foundation for much of the geologic history of the earth, but they also are very attractive areas for hydrocarbon accumulations. Klemme stated that this geographic area has provided significant hydrocarbon reserves: "By area, these basins represent slightly over 5% of the world's basins (50% productive). However, high recovery has resulted, as they contain 10% of the world's present reserves (12% of the oil reserves and 4% of the gas reserves)." The rift basins discussed in this volume are only a few of the productive and, more importantly, potentially productive rift basins in the world. The term "rift" was coined by Gregory (1896) for the graben that now bears his name in the Kenyan portion of the East African rift system. The study of geology of rift basins began in the Rhine graben. The discovery of hydrocarbons in rift basins about the turn of the century provided new motivation for understanding these basins. This publication was initiated by the AAPG Publications Committee in 1985 and contributors were invited to write. AAPG designed their "World Petroleum Basins" series and sought to publish the definitive volume on each of several basin types. In this volume, "Interior Rift Basins," a detailed, 3-paper overview was written about the Suez Rift basin as representative of interior rift basins. The key papers were followed by less detailed reviews of three other selected interior basins: Pripyat and Dnieper-Donets Basins; Reconcavo Basin, Brazil; Albuquerque Basin Segment of the Rio Grande Rift.