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Early Palaeozoic evolution of Libya: perspectives from Jabal Eghei with implications for hydrocarbon exploration in Al Kufrah Basin

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Abstract

This paper presents new stratigraphic and sedimentological data of the Ordovician, Silurian, and Mesozoic succession exposed on the western flank of Al Kufrah Basin. Field data (logged sections, photographs, palaeocurrent analyses) are presented from the Jabal Eghei region. This region lies ca. 200 km E of the closest stratigraphic tie point at Mourizidie on the eastern flank of the Murzuq Basin. The succession starts with the Hawaz Formation (Middle Ordovician) comprising >100 m of cross-bedded and bioturbated sandstones that are interpreted as deposits of tidal currents in an open shelf setting. The contact between the Hawaz and Mamuniyat formations is an erosional unconformity, incised during advance of Late Ordovician ice sheets towards the NE. The Mamuniyat Formation comprises >150 m of massive and graded sandstones tentatively assigned to the Hirnantian, and contains an intraformational, soft-sediment striated surface that is interpreted to record re-advance of ice sheets over Jabal Eghei. The outcrop section suggests the sandstone would form an excellent reservoir in the subsurface. The Mamuniyat Formation is overlain by the Tanezzuft Formation (uppermost Ordovician–lowermost Silurian). This includes sandy limestone/calcareous sandstone, a Planolites horizon, and then 50 m of interbedded shale, silt and fine-grained, graded and hummocky cross-stratified sandstone recording deposition from both shallow marine turbidity currents and storm flows. A striated pavement in the lower part of this sequence is overlain by calcareous lonestone-bearing intervals (interpreted as ice-rafted debris). These features testify to late phases of glacial advance probably post-dating the regional Hirnantian glacial maximum. The basal Silurian ‘hot shale’ facies is not developed in this area, probably because late glacial advance suppressed the preservation of organic matter. The upper part of the Tanezzuft Formation is truncated by an unconformity above which palaeosol-bearing fluvial deposits (undifferentiated Mesozoic) occur.

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