Carbonates and Evaporites

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 142–150 | Cite as

Cementation of holocene beachrock in the Aqaba and the Arabian Gulfs: Comparative study

  • H. M. Holail
  • M. N. Shaaban
  • A. S. Mansour


Extensive precipitation of aragonite and high-Mg calcite (12–14% MgCO3) cements in the intertidal sediments of the Gulf of Aqaba, Egypt and the Arabian Gulf, Qatar results in the formation of dominant beachrock exposures. The 20–60 cm thick beachrocks in both areas are parallel to the shoreline and slope gently seaward. The 14 C dating values show that the cement of the Gulf of Aqaba beachrock (2470±60y) are rather older than those of the Arabian Gulf (1360±45y). Framework grains in the Gulf of Aqaba beachrock are moderate to unsorted coarse terrigenous rock fragments, which differ than the unsorted carbonate particles of the Arabian Gulf beachrock. Carbonate cements in both the Aqaba and the Arabian Gulfs display the same architecture, which comprises: 1) thin isopachous crust made up of high-Mg calcite mosaics and/or aragonite needles that surround grains and 2) intergranular cryptocrystalline high-Mg calcites, which fill the rest of the pores. Minor dolomite mosaics may associate with the intergranular cement. The co-existence of the aragonite needles, of the isopachous crust, with the micritized grains and micritic envelopes is evidence that marine phreatic processes are dominant in the intertidal zone and that lithification has started in this zone. The bi-mineralic composition of the isopachous crust in the Aquaba beachrock is attributed mainly to kinetic factors (i.e. the rate of supply of carbonate ions) and to the composition of the substrate and/or organic control in the beachrock of the Arabian Gulf. Some physico-chemical, kinetic, hydrologic and biologic factors are believed to be effective in controlling the precipitation rates of the isopachous cement. The oxygen and carbon isotopic composition of the intergranular high-Mg calcite cement of the Aqaba Gulf (+2.0 to −1.6 and +2.9 to +4.4‰ PDB respectively) is in accord with their precipitation in equilibrium with marine water. However, the relatively depleted δ18O (−0.5 to −3 ‰ PDB) and δ13C (+0.3 to 2.2 ‰ PDB) values of the intergranular high-Mg calcite cement of the beachrock of the Arabian Gulf is attributed to extraneous source of bicarbonate ions. The minor dolomite rhombs are formed directly from seawater within microenvironments created in response to the release of Mg2+ ions to the pore water following the partial dissolution of some high-Mg calcite carbonate particles.


Calcite Dolomite Cementation Aragonite Intertidal Zone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. ALEXANDERSSON, T., 1972, Mediterranean beachrock cementation: marine precipitation of Mg-calcite,in D.J. Stanley, ed., The Mediterranean Sea: a natural sedimentation laboratory: Dowden, Hutchinson and Ross Publishers, Stroudsburg, p. 203–223.Google Scholar
  2. BEIER, J.A., 1985, Diagenesis of Quaternary Bahamian beachrock: petrographic and isotopic evidence:Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 55, p. 755–761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. BISCHOFF, W.D., BISHOP, F.C., and MACKENZIE, F.T., 1983, Biogenically produced magnesium calcite: Inhomogeneities in chemical and physical properties; comparison with synthetic phases:American Mineralogist, v. 68, p. 1183–1188.Google Scholar
  4. BRAITHWAITE, C.J.R., TAYLOR, J.D. and GLOVER, E.A., 2000, Marine carbonate cements, biofilms, biomineralization, and skeletogenesis: some bivalves do it all:Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 70, p. 1129–1138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. CALVET, F., CABRERA, M.C., CARRACEDO, J.C., MANGAS, J., PÉREZ-TORRADO, F.J., RECIO, C. and TRAVÉ, A., 2003, Beachrocks from the island of La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain):Marine Geology, v. 197, p. 75–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. DICKSON, J.A., 1966, Carbonate identification and genesis as revealed by staining:Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 36, p. 491–505.Google Scholar
  7. EL-SAMMAK, A.A. and SHAABAN, M.N., 1996, Carbonate geochemistry and mineralogy of short cores, Gulf of Suez, Egypt:Carbonate and Evaporites, v. 11, p. 155–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. EL-SAYED, M.KH., 1988, Beachrock cementation in Alexandria, Egypt:Marine Geology, v. 80, p. 29–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. FRIEDMAN, G.M., 1995, Diverse origin of modern dolomite in the Levant:Carbonate and Evaporites, v. 10, p. 65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. FRIEDMAN, G.M., 2002, Holocene chronostratigraphic beachrock sequences and their geologic and climatic significance. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Denver, p. 67–14.Google Scholar
  11. FRIEDMAN, G.M. and GAVISH, E., 1971, Mediterranean and Red Sea (Gulf of Aqaba) beachrock.In O.W. Bricker, ed., Carbonate cements. Johns Hopkins University, Studies in Geology, v. 19, p. 13–16.Google Scholar
  12. GUO, B. and FRIEDMAN, G.M., 1990, Petrophysical characteristics of Holocene beachrock:Carbonates and Evaporites, v. 5, p. 223–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. GISCHLER, E. and LOMANDO, A., 1997, Holocene cemented beach deposits in Belize:Sedimentary Geology, v. 110, p. 277–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. GIVEN, R.K. and WILKINSON, B.H., 1985, Kinetic control of morphology, composition, and mineralogy of abiotic sedimentary carbonates:Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 55, p. 109–119.Google Scholar
  15. HANOR, J.S., 1978, Precipitation of beachrock cements: mixing of marine and meteoric waters vs. CO2 degassing:Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 48, p. 489–501.Google Scholar
  16. HOLAIL, H.M. AND RASHED, M.A., 1992, Stable isotopic composition of carbonate-cemented recent beachrock along the Mediterranean and the Red Sea coasts of Egypt:Marine Geology, v. 106, p. 141–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. HUDSON, J.D., 1977, Stable isotopes of limestone lithification:Journal of Geological Society of London, v. 133, p. 637–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. JAMES, N.P., GINSBURG, R.N., MARSZALEK, D.S. and CHOQUETTE, P.W., 1976, Facies and fabric specificity of early subsea cements in shallow Belize (British Honduras) reefs:Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 46, p. 523–544.Google Scholar
  19. KHALAF, F.I., 1988, Quaternary calcareous hard rocks and the associated sediments in the intertidal and offshore zones of Kuwait:Marine Geology, v. 80, p. 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. KNEALE, D. and VILES, H.A., 2000, Beach cement: incipient CaCO3-cemented beachrock development in the upper intertidal zone, North Uist, Scotland.Sedimentary Geology, v. 132, p. 165–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. MACINTYRE, I.G., 1984, Extensive submarine lithification in a cave in the Belize barrier reef platform:Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 54, p.221–235.Google Scholar
  22. MAGARITZ, M., GAVISH, E., BAKLER, N. and KAFRI, U., 1979, Carbon and oxygen isotope composition-indicators of cementation environment in Recent, Holocene and Pleistocene sediments along the coast of Israel.Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 49, p. 401–411.Google Scholar
  23. MEYERS, J.H., 1987, Marine vadose beachrock cementation by cryptocrystalline magnesian calcite, Maui, Hawaii:Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 57, p. 558–570.Google Scholar
  24. MILLIMAN, J.D., 1974, Marine carbonates. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 378 p.Google Scholar
  25. MOORE, C.H., 1973, Intertidal carbonate cementation, Grand Cayman, West Indies:Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 43, p. 591–602.Google Scholar
  26. MORROW, D.W., 1982, Diagenesis 1. Dolomite-part 1. The chemistry of dolomitization and dolomite precipitation:Geoscience Canada, v. 9, p. 5–13.Google Scholar
  27. MORSE, J.W. and MACKENZIE, F.T., 1990, Geochemistry of sedimentary carbonates. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 707 p.Google Scholar
  28. MUCCI, A. and MORSE, J.W., 1983, The incorporation of Mg2+ and Sr2+ into calcite overgrowths: influences of growth rate and solution composition:Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, v. 47, p. 217–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. NEUMEIER, URS, 1999, Experimental modelling of beachrock cementation under microbial influence:Sedimentary Geology, v. 126, p. 35–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. RUSSELL, R.J., 1962, Origin of beachrock:Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, v. 6, p. 1–6.Google Scholar
  31. SCHMALZ, R.F., 1971, Formation of beachrock at Eniwetak Atoll,in O.P. Bricker, ed., Carbonate Cements. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, p. 17–24.Google Scholar
  32. SHINN, E.A., 1969, Submarine lithification of Holocene carbonate sediments in the Persian Gulf:Sedimentology, v. 12, p. 109–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. STRASSER, A. and STROHMENGER, C., 1997, Early diagenesis in Pleistocene coral reefs, southern Sinai, Egypt: response to tectonics, sea-level and climate:Sedimentology, v. 44, p. 537–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. STRASSER, A., STROHMENGER, C., DAVAUD, E., and BACH, A., 1992, Sequential evolution and diagenesis of Pleistocene coral reefs (South Sinai, Egypt):Sedimentary Geology, v. 78, p. 59–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. STUMM, W. 1992, Chemistry of the solid-water interface. Wiley, New York, 448 p.Google Scholar
  36. TAYLOR, J.C.M. and ILLING, L.V., 1969, Variation in Recent beachrock cements, Qatar, Persian Gulf,in O. Bricker, ed., Carbonate cements: Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 32–35.Google Scholar
  37. WALTER, L.M., 1986, Relative efficiency of carbonate dissolution and precipitation during diagenesis: A progress report on the role of solution chemistry:Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 56, p. 1–11.Google Scholar
  38. WHITTLE, G., KENDALL, C.G.ST., DILL, R.F. and ROUCH, L., 1993, Carbonate cement fabrics displayed: A traverse across the margin of the Bahamas platform near Lee Stocking Island in the Exuma Cays:Marine Geology, v. 110, p. 213–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. M. Holail
    • 1
  • M. N. Shaaban
    • 1
  • A. S. Mansour
    • 1
  1. 1.Geology Department, Faculty of ScienceAlexandria UniversityAlexandriaEgypt

Personalised recommendations