Impact of diagenesis on reservoir quality in ramp carbonates: Gialo Formation (Middle Eocene), Sirt Basin, Libya

G. H. Swei, Maurice E. Tucker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The reservoir quality of Middle Eocene carbonates in the intracratonic Sirt Basin is strongly influenced by depositional facies and various diagenetic processes. Based on data from core samples and well logs from five boreholes in the Assumood and Sahl gasfields in the subsurface of the north-central Sirt Basin, six major carbonate facies (and fourteen microfacies) are distinguished in the Middle Eocene Gialo Formation (thickness similar to 1100 ft/335 m). Wackestones-packstones dominate the Gialo Formation with abundant grains of larger benthic foraminifera, especially nummulites, in a matrix composed mostly of finely comminuted bioclastic material. Sediments were deposited as a mosaic of facies on a broad carbonate ramp in moderate-energy nummulite-packstone banks, with locally restricted back-bank lagoons and fore-bank areas of foraminiferal debris passing to offshore lime mudstones.

Marine diagenesis was minor with micritization of bioclasts and rare vadose marine fibrous cements. Sparry calcite cements are ubiquitous and were precipitated during shallow to moderate burial from seawater and/or meteoric water, the latter largely unaffected by surface-pedogenic processes. This is indicated by the fabrics and pre- and post-compaction precipitation of drusy spar and echinoderm overgrowths, and supported by their bright-to-dull luminescence and low negative delta(18)O signatures (-2.68 to -4.16 parts per thousand PDB). Some early neomorphic alteration of calcitic bioclasts is suggested by bright CL and marine to low negative delta(18)O values (-1.06 to -3.93 parts per thousand PDB). Bioclastic grains have delta(13)C values ranging between 0.76 and 1.19 parts per thousand PDB, interpreted as marine signatures. Similar low positive delta(13)C values of the cements (0.9 to 1.05 parts per thousand) indicate a source of carbonate from dissolution of grains and/or seawater/meteoric water, but without any near-surface/soil effects. Dissolution of grains and matrix, notably originally aragonitic grains but also the originally high-Mg calcite nummulites, was a major porosity-enhancing process, and took place from shallow to moderate burial depths. Fractures may locally have increased porosity too.

Shallow-water packstones/rudstones containing both primary intergranular and secondary biomouldic porosity have the best reservoir quality and these are concentrated in the upper parts (top similar to 100 ft/30 m) of the wells, with porosity-permeability decreasing downwards. This trend relates to the broad, large-scale facies pattern of more mud-dominated facies giving way upwards to more grainy, nummulite-dominated facies as a result of an overall shallowing of the depositional environment. In addition, the influx of meteoric waters in the upper part of the Gialo platform, before drowning and deposition of the overlying Augila Shale, increased porosity through dissolution. This integrated study has helped in understanding the reservoir heterogeneity and hydrocarbon potential of the Gialo carbonates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-47
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of petroleum geology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Eocene Gialo Formation
  • Libya
  • carbonate reservoirs
  • nummulites
  • diagenesis

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