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Abstract

The Khuff Formation of Saudi Arabia consists of a succession of shallow marine carbonates, mudstones and evaporites. It is exposed along the basement-flanking outcrop belt of central Saudi Arabia, and also forms important hydrocarbon reservoirs at depth in the east. Micropalaeontological evidence suggests that the Khuff Formation in Saudi Arabia is of latest Permian to early Triassic age. Of the four members, the Permo-Triassic boundary is located at, or slightly above, the boundary between the uppermost Midhnab and Khartam Members in the outcrop belt and within the lower part of the Khuff B carbonate reservoir in the subsurface. Accurate correlation between the exposed succession and the subsurface lithologies remains a tantalizing problem.

Micropalaeontological biocomponents are sufficiently distinct within the late Permian carbonate succession to enable determination of a series of palaeoenvironmentally significant biofacies for which no previous interpretation has been suggested. Tiered biofacies reveal significant deepening and shoaling trends that assist in determining maximum flooding events and depositional cycle boundaries. The subsurface reservoir carbonates display subtle palaeoenvironmental variations of an extensive, generally shallow marine, carbonate platform that ranged from intertidal to depths within intra-shelf basins that probably rarely exceeded storm wave base. The problems of synonomy of the foraminifera have been resolved by a pragmatic approach justified by the analytical time constraints demanded by industrial micropalaeontology.

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