Petrology and depositional evolution of the Paleozoic rocks of Iraq
The study integrates petrographical and lithological data from deep exploration wells and outcrops in northern Iraq to better understand the sedimentary environments present in the basin and to evaluate the depositional evolution of the Paleozoic rocks in Iraq. The studied Paleozoic successions are represented by five sedimentary cycles of intracratonic sequences. These are dominated mainly by siliciclastic and mixed sedimentary packages, and are separated by major and minor unconformity surfaces. These cycles are as follow: the Ordovician cycle, represented by the Khabour Formation; the Silurian cycle, represented by the Akkas Formation; the Middle-Late Devonian to Early Carboniferous cycle, represented by the Chalki, Pirispiki, Kaista, Ora and Harur formations; the Permian-Carboniferous cycle, represented by the Ga'ara Formation and late Permian cycle, represented by the Chia Zairi Formation. Generally, the cycles are characterized by siliciclastic and mixed carbonate-clastic facies with abrupt changes during Late Paleozoic reflecting the environmental and tectonic events during this period. The Ordovician Khabour Formation is suggested to be of shallow marine environment of deposition with stacked transgressive and regressive cycles that are eustatically controlled. The shale of Silurian Akkas Formation was deposited in open-marine environment. Depositional regimes in the Late Devonian to Early Carboniferous are considered as a continuation of deposition in the subsiding basin with a wide geographic distribution that reflect the epicontinental or epeiric seas in a homoclinic ramp setting. The Permo-Carboniferous Ga'ara Formation was deposited in continental to paralic environment while the Late Permian Chia Zairi Formation represents the carbonate platform deposition. The study revealed that potential source rocks may include some shale beds of the Khabour Formation, hot shales of Akkas Formation and the shales of Ora Formation. The sandstones of the Khabour, Akkas and Kaista formations have good reservoir potential. The Late Permian carbonates of Chia Zairi Formation may be self-sourcing and contain multiple reservoirs. The occurrence of shale as source rocks and limestone as reservoir rocks and some evaporates as sealing horizons make the formation as a reservoir in its own right.