The Middle Jurassic in the north Western Desert, Egypt, was a time of complex tectonics and increased environmental perturbations attributed to the predominant sedimentation of organic carbon-rich fine siliciclastic and carbonate deposits of the Khatatba Formation. Although some studies have addressed the hydrocarbon potential and source rock characteristics of the Khatatba Formation, a regional-scale investigation of the prevalent paleoenvironmental conditions and organic matter characteristics is still necessary. In this study, the Khatatba Formation is investigated for detailed palynofacies analysis and palynomorph composition to assess organic matter kerogen types and reconstruct the depositional paleoenvironmental patterns on a regional scale. For this purpose, 116 drill cuttings were collected from five wells in the Matruh, Shushan, and Dahab-Mireir Basins. Moderately diverse assemblages of spores, pollen, and dinoflagellate cysts are reported. Age-diagnostic dinoflagellate cysts, including Adnatosphaeridium caulleryi, Dichadogonyaulax sellwoodii, Korystocysta gochtii, Wanaea acollaris, and Pareodinia ceratophora, along with occasional records of Systematophora areolate and Systematophora penicillate, defined a Bajocian–Callovian age. Based on particulate organic matter (POM) composition, four palynofacies assemblages (PFAs) are identified. PFA-1 is the most common within the Khatatba Formation in the five studied wells. It contains high proportions of phytoclast fragments versus low contents of amorphous organic matter (AOM) and palynomorphs and is defined by a gas-prone kerogen Type III. PFA-2 is comprised of moderate abundances of AOM and phytoclast characteristics of oil-prone kerogen Type II. PFA-3 is dominated by phytoclasts and moderate to low proportions of AOM and palynomorphs of kerogen Type III, whereas PFA-4 consists of AOM and palynomorphs defining kerogen Type II. PFA-1 indicates predominant deposition in proximal active fluvio-deltaic sources to marginal marine conditions with enhanced contributions of terrestrial/riverine influx. PFA-2 and PFA-3 reveal deposition under an enhanced dysoxic to anoxic proximal inner neritic shelf due to the abundant occurrences of spores and coastal to shallow marine dinoflagellate cysts. PFA-4 suggests deposition under enhanced suboxic to anoxic distal inner neritic conditions because of enhanced AOM and abundant proximate and some chorate dinoflagellate cysts. Thus, the Middle Jurassic experienced a predominantly marginal to shallow water column in this part of the southern margin of the Tethyan Ocean where the Matruh, Shushan, and Dahab-Mireir Basins were located.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Publication Status

Open Access


King Saud University, Grant None

Keywords and Phrases

Dahab-Mireir Basin; kerogen types; Matruh Basin; organic matter characterization; palynomorph composition; Shushan Basin

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Article - Journal

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Final Version

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Publication Date

01 Apr 2023