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A synthesis of the sequence stratigraphy and sedimentation patterns of the Barremian and Aptian strata of the eastern part of the Arabian Plate is presented constrained in time by biostratigraphy, chemostratigraphy and cyclostratigraphic modeling, and in space by 3-D outcrop and subsurface datasets. This comprehensive model provides significant new stratigraphic insights, and improves our understanding of the petroleum habitat of some of the most prolific hydrocarbon reservoirs of the Middle East.

This synthesis is based on a unique dataset including both existing and new data from Iran, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Ethiopia. This regional dataset yields a robust sequence-stratigraphic model, well constrained in time, with supersequences, within which third-order sequences are defined: the Barremian Supersequence, subdivided in two third-order sequences, the Aptian Supersequence, subdivided in to four third-order sequences, and the Upper Aptian – Lower Albian Supersequence, subdivided in to four third-order sequences.

The most significant changes in the sedimentary system of the studied interval are: (1) the evolution from widespread, flat mixed carbonate-siliciclastic ramp system in the Barremian to an intra-shelf basin and carbonate platform system in the Early Aptian, (2) a phase of regional sea-level lowstand in the Late Aptian, which exposed the carbonate platforms, formed incised valley systems, brought siliciclastics in the intra-shelf basins and strongly reduced carbonate sedimentation, and (3) a latest Aptian – Early Albian sea-level rise that was accompanied by the local deposition of condensed iron-rich siliciclastics.

The improved understanding of the stratigraphic organisation of this system allows for the introduction of a unified regional nomenclature, which facilitates communication and increases work efficiency, such as the comparison of time-equivalent oilfields in different phases of their life cycles, the improved understanding of regional changes in reservoir, source and seal facies, and the identification of potential stratigraphic traps by using analogs.

Finally, the Barremian, Aptian and Lower Albian dataset of the southeastern Arabian Plate presented herein is probably the most detailed in the Neo-Tethys domain, and thus not only provides an excellent sequence-stratigraphic reference model, but also a reference for shallow- and deep-water biostratigraphic and chemostratigraphic trends, and finally, probably the best-constrained relative sea-level curve for this stratigraphic interval on the globe.

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