The Triassic Argilo-Gréseux Inférieur Formation (TAG-I) is one of the principal hydrocarbon reservoirs in the Berkine Basin of Algeria. Sedimentological studies have shown that it exhibits marked spatial and temporal facies variations on both a local field scale and a regional basinal scale. This variability, combined with a lack of diagnostic flora and fauna, makes regional correlation within the unit difficult. In turn, the lack of a consistent regional stratigraphic framework hampers the comparison of the various correlation schemes devised by operators in the basin.
Contrasting the TAG-I in Blocks 402 and 405a exemplifies the problems encountered when attempting regionally to define a correlation framework for the interval. Between these two blocks, a distance of approximately 200 km, there are marked changes in the style of deposition from sand-dominated, proximal fluvial systems in the SW (Block 405a, MLN, MLC, KMD and MLNW fields) to a more distal, more clay-prone system in the NE (Block 402, ROD/BRSE/BSFN, SFNE and BSF fields). A chemostratigraphic study of the TAG-I in these two blocks has allowed a four-fold correlation framework to be defined, where each chemostratigraphic package has distinctive geochemical features. Chemostratigraphic Package 10, the oldest unit, lies above the Hercynian Unconformity, but beneath a geochemically identifiable hiatal surface. Chemostratigraphic Package 20 lies above the hiatal surface but is separated from the overlying packages by a mineralogical change identifiable in both claystone and sandstone geochemistry. Chemostratigraphic Packages 30 and 40 are chemically somewhat similar, but are separated by a regional event interpreted as a period of dolocrete and lacustrine development. By combining the geochemical differentiation of the units and recognition of their stratal boundaries, it is possible to define a correlation for the TAG-I between Blocks 402 and 405a.
The proposed correlation between the two blocks suggests that the northern parts of Block 405a may have been occupied by a spur or subsidiary channel from the main SW–NE-trending fluvial system, resulting in one of the chemically defined packages being demonstrably absent in the MLNW, MLN, KMD and MLC fields when compared with the other areas of the study.