Possible Origin of Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar Supergiant Oil Field

Almost every literate person knows the basics of oil. Almost every literate person also knows something about plate tectonics. While coupling of these two topics has been the focus of many studies, all to date has mostly remained indirect.

In a thought-provoking and already controversial paper, authors Giovanni Muttoni and Dennis Kent suggest direct links between major oil provinces and tectonics. The concept lies in polar wander and relatively rapid past movements of continents with respect to latitude. At a basic level, and at certain locations, massive amounts organic carbon could have been emplaced at equatorial latitudes and subsequently capped with sediments deposited at sub-tropical latitudes. Time will tell whether the idea is right, but the paper nonetheless forces the scientific community to think.

A Novel Plate Tectonic Scenario for the Genesis and Sealing of Some Major Mesozoic Oil Fields
GSA Today, v. 26, no. 12, doi: 10.1130/GSATG289A.1
Authors: Giovanni Muttoni, Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra ‘Ardito Desio,’ Università degli Studi di Milano, via Mangiagalli 34, I-20133 Milan, Italy, giovanni.muttoni1@unimi.it; and Dennis V. Kent, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA, and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York 10964, USA.

GSA Today articles are open access online; for a print copy, please contact Kea Giles. Please discuss articles of interest with the authors before publishing stories on their work, and please make reference to GSA Today in articles published.



29 November 2016
GSA Release No. 16-60

Kea Giles, Managing Editor,
GSA Communications

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Ghawar oil field
Ghawar Oil Field, Saudi Arabia. Image courtesy Giovanni Muttoni.