ERPE 210 Fundamentals of Carbonate Geology

This course addresses key fundamentals of Carbonate Geology. An overview will be given covering all aspects of carbonate geology from historical development of the field, to the mineralogy of carbonate rocks, their components diagenesis and classification systems. Initial learnings will be the concept of uniformitarianism, and its limitiation in view of changes in earth environments and evolution of life through time. The making of carbonate rocks will be investigated by a systematic journey through depositional systems and their products from mud to reef rock and carbonate sands to deep marine carbonate ooze. The impact of environmental factors such as water depth, current and wave energy, sun light, nutrients, etc. will be weighed. Following the introduction of components and depositional environments aspects of stratigraphy will be considered: facies, facies belts, facies stacking and depositonal sequences. In the last phase, the course will provide an overview on how carbonate sediments turn into carbonate rocks through diagenesis. What is diagenesis? Introduced will be a brief overview of chemistry, timing (syn-depositional to late), environments (marine to burial), mineral transitions including dolomitization, the products of diagenesis and how to recognize and classify them. After having achieved an understanding of the deposition of sediments and their transition into rocks, attention will shift to the holes in the rock. A brief introduction is offered of the carbonate porosity system, its genesis, classification and the associated property of permeability. Finally, the concepts of changes over time (paragenesis) will be introduced from component genesis to sediment deposition, the sequence of diagenetic events over time to burial history. There will be 2 lectures of 1.5 hours per week (online or in class room). An essential component of the course will be the review and presentation of research papers by students (2 per week). Lectures are accompanied by an additional mandatory laboratory session of 1.5 hours per week. Components and concepts will be demonstrated with samples, rocks and thinsections and exercises. Provisionally, 2-3 field excursions are planned. Two 1-day weekend field excursions near KAUST will provide insights into carbonate depositional environments and how sediments turn into rocks, diagenesis & porosity systems. The third trip will be a 2 ½ day weekend trip to Abu Dhabi to investigate modern depositional systems of the Arabian Gulf. This may be replaced by a trip within Saudi Arabia to a carbonate depositional system. Note: students are expected to have at least basic familiarity with geology, sedimentary processes and evolution.




Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of Geology. Historical development of carbonate fields. Carbonates mineralogy. Depositional environments. Classification systems. Evolution from sediments to rocks. Diagenesis: driving forces and physical environments. Dolomitization. Generation of rock sequences: facies, facies belts, facies stacking and stratigraphy. The role of porosity, its creation, alteration and classification. Carbonate rock systems for the oil industry. Lab Work: core description, petrography, microscopy, petrographic and geochemical tools.