Three-dimensional morphometric analysis and statistical distribution of the Early Kimmeridgian Hanifa Formation stromatoporoid/coral buildups, central Saudi Arabia

Ahmad Ramdani*, Pankaj Khanna, Sander De Jong, Gaurav Siddharth Gairola, Sherif Hanafy, Volker Vahrenkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The high porosity and permeability stromatoporoid/coral facies partly characterize some of the most productive supergiant Late Jurassic carbonate reservoirs in the Middle East. Reservoir models often overlook detailed morphology and distributions of this facies due to the limited resolution of subsurface data. 3D morphological architecture and distribution of the Late Jurassic stromatoporoid/coral buildups are poorly understood as not many studies specifically investigate these aspects. This study performs a full three-dimensional outcrop investigation of the stromatoporoid/coral complex part of the Late Jurassic Hanifa reservoir analog in Wadi Birk, Saudi Arabia. We investigated spatial correlation, clustering tendencies, scaling relationships, and comprehensive statistical description over a 1.2 × 1 km area analog to a small-scale sectoral model of a typical Middle Eastern oilfield. This study utilizes integrated datasets including measured sections, drone-based digital outcrop model (DOM), core, ground penetrating radar (GPR), and shallow seismic to perform a full three-dimensional outcrop investigation. We identify and map three levels of the scaling hierarchy of the buildups: S1, S2, and S3. S1-scale buildups (a few meters in length) combine to form S2 clusters (∼35 m in length), which in turn may grow into larger S3 complexes (∼128 m in length). S1-scale buildups are near-circular and isotropic. However, as the S1 buildups cluster and grow into S2 and S3, their circular shape evolves into pseudo-ellipsoids with a strong preferential orientation towards northwest-southeast. The S2 and S3-scale amalgamated buildups are associated with asymmetric flank accumulation towards the northwest. We propose that the orientation of the S2 and S3-scale buildups and associated flanks are attributed to hydrodynamic currents driven by paleo-trade winds. This study also performs a brief static connectivity assessment to demonstrate the subsurface implications of these facies to field development planning. Results show that a vertical 5-spot pattern with a 1 km spacing can, in the best case, only access 14% of the Gross Rock Volume of the build-up facies due to the extreme lateral heterogeneity. Some 84% of the build-ups would be connected via flank and other facies with significantly different reservoir quality. This result underlines the extreme heterogeneity of the late Jurassic shallow-water platform carbonates and the potential for substantial quantities of bypassed hydrocarbons remaining in subsurface analog reservoirs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105934
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geophysics
  • Geology
  • Economic Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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