Fault-controlled dolostone geometries in a transgressive–regressive sequence stratigraphic framework

Shuqing Yao*, Enrique Gomez-Rivas, Juan Diego Martín-Martín, David Gómez-Gras, Anna Travé, Albert Griera, John A. Howell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the geometries of fault-controlled dolostone geobodies and their structural and sequence stratigraphic controls, which provide new insights for the prediction and production of fault-controlled dolomitized hydrocarbon reservoirs. A very thick succession (>1600 m) of Aptian–Albian shallow-marine carbonates of the Benassal Formation that crop out in the Benicàssim area (Maestrat Basin, eastern Spain) is partly replaced by dolomite, resulting in dolostone geometries ranging from massive patches to stratabound bodies. Detailed mapping, systematic logging and correlation were carried out to characterize the structural, sedimentary and sequence stratigraphic framework of the area and to constrain the principal controls on the full-range of dolostone geometries. The results show that carbonate sediments accumulated in a half graben stacked in three transgressive–regressive sequences. Large-scale massive dolostone patches (with up to kilometre extension) formed near large-scale faults indicating that they acted as entry points for warm dolomitizing fluids into the basin. These dolostone patches laterally pass to large stratabound bodies that extend for long distances (at least 7 km) away from feeding faults, forming a continuum. The presence of a regional unconformity and a clastic fine-grain low-permeability unit (Escucha Formation) on top of the Benassal Formation likely constrained the dolomitization fluids to an up to 580 m thick interval below the base of the Escucha Formation. Thus, only limestones within this interval, corresponding to the two uppermost transgressive–regressive sequences, were dolomitized. There is a clear relationship between the stratigraphic framework and the preferred replaced beds. Dolomitization preferentially affected sediments deposited in inner to middle ramp settings with predominant wackestone to packstone textures. Such facies are laterally most abundant in the east of the study area (i.e. basinward) and vertically in layers around the maximum flooding zone of the top sequence, which is preferentially affected by dolomitization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3290-3316
Number of pages27
Issue number6
Early online date30 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note


This research was funded by the University of Aberdeen, the China Scholarship Council (CSC), the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) Foundation, and the British Sedimentological Research Group (BSRG). Additional funding was provided by the Grup Consolidat de Recerca “Geologia Sedimentària” (2017SGR‐824) and DGICYT Spanish Projects CGL2015‐69805‐P, CGL2015‐66335‐C2‐1‐R and PGC2018‐093903‐B‐C22. EGR acknowledges funding by the AGAUR (Agència de Gestió d'Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca) of the Generalitat de Catalunya (“Beatriu de Pinós” fellowship 2016 BP 00208‐UB) and the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (“Ramón y Cajal” fellowship RYC2018‐026335‐I). Thanks to Joan Guanyabens for his assistance during one of the field campaigns, and to Magda Chmielewska for her assistance building Lidar virtual outcrop models. We are grateful to Enric Pascual‐Cebrian, Felix Schlagintweit and Telm Bover‐Arnal for their suggestions on carbonate facies. We thank the reviewers Cathy Hollis and Fadi Nader, and editors Hairuo Qing, Christian Betzler and Peir Pufahl for their valuable suggestions to improve this article.


  • Aptian–Albian
  • diagenesis
  • fault-controlled dolomitization
  • Maestrat Basin
  • outcrop analogue
  • stratigraphic sequence


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