H. A. Eltom1*, O. M. Abdullatif1, L. O. Babalola1, M. A. Bashari1, M. Yassin1, M. S. Osman1 and A. M. Abduraziq1

1 King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Earth Sciences Department, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

* Corresponding author, email:,

This study presents the results of chemostratigraphic analyses and spectral gamma-ray logging integrated with sedimentological data across the Permian-Triassic boundary at a measured outcrop section in central Saudi Arabia. The studied section encompasses the uppermost part of the Midhnab Member and the Lower and Upper Khartam Members of the Khuff Formation. Lithofacies were interpreted to have been deposited in subtidal, tidal to supratidal, lacustrine and meandering fluvial / flood plain, marginal marine and lagoonal depositional environments. Integration of bulk geochemical and carbon isotope (δ13C) data allowed the identification of a stratigraphic interval with a negative shift in δ13C ratio values, which was interpreted to correspond to the end-Permian mass extinction event. The end of this "first negative shift in δ13C values" is taken to mark the Permian-Triassic boundary. Above this boundary and just below an interval containing scattered thrombolites, a second negative shift in δ13C ratios was observed, and corresponds to an interval with long-term uranium depletion as indicated by the bulk sediment geochemical and spectral gamma-ray uranium data.

The Permian-Triassic boundary (PTrB) was placed at the transition between marginal-marine and subtidal deposits. This stratigraphic position corresponds to the end of the "first negative δ13C shift" and the point of greatest uranium depletion. Although previous studies on outcrops of the Khuff Formation in Saudi Arabia identified a major sequence boundary between the Lower and Upper Khartam Members and interpreted it as the PTrB, no evidence is presented in this study for exposure and dissolution at this surface. Accordingly, the Permian-Triassic transition is placed in the transgressive portion of the Upper Khartam Member, while the sequence boundary below is interpreted to correspond to the end-Permian extinction.

Correlation of Khuff time-equivalent units in the Arabian Plate is challenging, and this study will contribute to an improved understanding of this important stratigraphic unit, which contains prolific non-associated gas reservoirs. The identification of the Permian-Triassic boundary in central Saudi Arabia will help in the construction of a sequence-stratigraphic scheme for the Khuff, and with the correlation of lithofacies within this heterogeneous reservoir unit.

Key words: Permian-Triassic boundary, end-Permian extinction, Saudi Arabia, stable isotopes, δ13C, uranium depletion, microbialites, Khuff Formation.

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