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Volume 26 Issue 12 (December 2016)

GSA Today

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Article, pp. 4-11 | Full Text | PDF (4.8MB)

A Novel Plate Tectonic Scenario for the Genesis and Sealing of Some Major Mesozoic Oil Fields


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Giovanni Muttoni1, Dennis V. Kent2

1 Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra ‘Ardito Desio,’ Università degli Studi di Milano, via Mangiagalli 34, I-20133 Milan, Italy
2 Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA, and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York 10964, USA


Recent research reveals evidence of a major event of global plate motion during the Jurassic, with a magnitude and tempo hitherto not fully appreciated. Yet, its legacy persists today as the potent Jurassic source-reservoir-seal oil systems in the Persian Gulf region. We suggest that these formed as a consequence of a sweeping tectonic movement whereby Arabia drifted rapidly from the oil-forming Intertropical Convergence Zone along the equator to the arid tropics of the southern hemisphere with rapid deposition of relatively uncemented carbonate reservoirs and anhydrite seals, all during as little as 15 m.y. in the Late Jurassic. The Ghawar supergiant oil field of Saudi Arabia was one of the results. Rapid latitudinal change may have influenced the development of some source-reservoir-seal oil systems elsewhere as well.

Manuscript received 25 February 2016; revised manuscript received 6 June 2016; accepted 10 June 2016

doi: 10.1130/GSATG289A.1