Dynamics of cementation in response to oil charge: Evidence from a Cretaceous carbonate field, UAE

P. A. Cox, Rachel Wood, J. A. D. Dickson, H. B. Al Rougha, H. Shebl, P. W. M. Corbett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oil charge is thought to inhibit the growth of cements within subsurface pore systems. We explore this phenomenon in a giant Cretaceous carbonate field from U.A.E., where the oil-filled crest porosity ranges from 10 to 50% and permeability from 0.08 to 830 mD but coeval water leg porosity is reduced to 10 to 23% and permeability to 0.1 to 4 mD. Only 5% of primary interparticle pores (>30 mu m diameter) in the crest are fully cemented, compared to 99% of pores in the water leg.

Syntaxial calcite burial cements (>10 mu m diameter) in the oil leg show 12 cathodoluminescence zones with oil inclusions (n = 27) occurring in four of the five final zones. Mean in-situ ion microprobe delta O-18(VPDB) data from the oil leg cements range from -1.2 parts per thousand in the oldest zone decreasing to -10.3 parts per thousand in zone 11, returning to -7.7 parts per thousand in the final zone. The oldest distinguishable cement zone in the water leg shows highly variable delta O-18 from -3.6 parts per thousand to -9.3 parts per thousand with a mean of -7.3 parts per thousand, and with subsequent zones decreasing to a mean value of -9.4 parts per thousand for the youngest cement zone. Decreasing delta O-18 values are interpreted as indicating increasing temperature reflecting burial and the evolution of pore water composition: broadly similar trends in the oil and water legs suggest precipitation under the same general conditions.

Unlike the oil leg cements, the final zone in the water leg occludes nearly all remaining pore space. The delta O-18(VPDB) of bulk micrite from the water leg shows an average of -7.4 parts per thousand (n = 9) compared to -6.2 parts per thousand (n = 10) from the oil leg, suggesting the precipitation of further micrite cement at greater burial depths. We infer that burial cementation slowed in the presence of oil due to a reduction of potential nucleation sites as well as porewater and solute movement within weakly oil-wet pores, whereas continued flow and solute movement through all pores including the micropores (<10 mu m diameter) enabled extensive cementation in the water leg.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-254
Number of pages9
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010


  • Carbonate
  • Diagenesis
  • Calcite cements
  • Oil charge
  • Abu Dhabi
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Microporosity

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