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Petroleum Geology of Southern Libya

Product description Table of Content Geological Summary Discussion References Reviews
Order Information Authors Expert Interviews Script as pdf Video Clips Photographs

Product description



The petroleum geology of southern Libya is featured in a new training film series on DVD. The series consists of 7 parts of 30-45 minutes each. Key sedimentary and plate tectonic events are featured based on extensive outcrop video footage combined with professional, animated 3D graphics, present-day facies analogue pictures and interviews with specialists. Desert film footage from the Murzuq and Kufra basins forms the core of the film project. Wrapped into fascinating scenes from landscapes such as the Akakus canyon labyrinth and typical Mamuniyat needle rocks, the viewer is taken on a comprehensive tour to the geological past of southern Libya, introducing all elements relevant to petroleum exploration in the region. Using a genetic, process-oriented approach, viewers are introduced step-by-step to the various depositional phases and their underlying driving mechanisms.

The film is suitable as teaching material in Libyan and international academic institutions and will also help professional geologists working on southern Libyan petroleum and water projects. Furthermore, the film will give non-geologists an idea of the geological background in the area, among them decision makers from the petroleum and water industry, Libyan nationals interested in the earth history of their home country as well as tourists.

Production of the film was kindly co-sponsored by the oil companies Hess Corporation, ConocoPhilips, ENI North Africa, Norsk Hydro and Statoil as well as the Academy of Graduate Studies (Tripoli).

Set of 4 DVDs, duration 4h 30 min, english, PAL, 4:3 format

Order Information

The documentary training film series about the petroleum geology of southern Libya is available through the Geological Society of London Online Bookshop.

From the Content

Film 1 Introduction
  Geological Framework
  Pan-African Orogeny
Film 2 Upper Cambrian to middle Ordovician
  Upper Ordovician glacial reservoirs, part 1
Film 3 Upper Ordovician glacial reservoirs, part 2
  Discovery of the Elephant Oil Field
Film 4 Silurian source rock
  Exploration History of southern Libya
Film 5 Silurian deltaic progradation
  Devonian uplift and fluvial sands
  Middle Devonian to Carboniferous shallow marine cycles
Film 6 Mesozoic rifting and extension
  Mesozoic continental deposits
  Alpine Uplift
  Tertiary Volcanism
  Meteorite Impacts
Film 7 Pleistocene-Holocene Wet Times
  Conclusions and remaining prospectivity


Available Online

The full documentary movie is now online on youtube, free of charge.

Film 1:



Film 2:



Film 3:



Film 4:



Film 5:



Film 6:



Film 7:






Field Photographs

A large selection of geological field photographs from Southern Libya has been uploaded into a dedicated flickr online photo album. To retrieve the full-resolution pictures, click on the photo in the overview, and on the next screen click the "all sizes" button. Feel free to use these pictures in your exploration presentations and research projects, but please reference the respective author mentioned in the photograph's caption or the seven-continents.com website as a source. We thank all colleagues who allowed us to present their photographs on this platform, in particular Karsten Battermann, Rolf Bortz, Steve Schulz, Stefan Lubeseder, Gregg Pyke and Mike Martin.


The non-profit film project is produced by 7C Science Productions, in co-operation with the Earth Science Society of Libya and the Academy of Graduate Studies (Tripoli). The film's script has been written by Dr Sebastian Lüning who also did all of the desert filming as well as the film editing. Co-authors in this production are Dr Nuri Fello, Dr Jonathan Craig, Daniel Le Heron, Yousef Abutarruma, Steve Schulz, Stefan Lubeseder, Gregg Pyke and Andre Dunford. Earlier film productions of 7C include a training video about the Silurian hot shale of SW Libya and the movie “Natural Wonders of the Maghreb – Expedition through Morocco's Earth History”, a format for the general public.

Fieldwork of some of the authors in southern Libya was supported by the North Africa Research Group, CASP, Woodside, and Oxy.

Screenings and Reviews

Parts of the film have been shown at the PESGB/HGS Africa Conferences 2006 (London) and 2007 (Capetown) as well as at the Geological Society Infracambrian Conference 2006 (London).

"At the end of the day we were given a real treat, the first public screening of a film, the 'Petroleum Geology of Southern Libya', a movie directed by Sebastian Lüning from the University of Bremen. It included stunning scenescapes, close-ups of outcrops, plate reconstructions and seismic examples. If you only see one movie this year we suggest you make it the blockbuster offering from Lüning!"
(Kevin Dale and Stuart Munday, Newsletter of the PESGB, November 2006 issue, p. 85).


Experts appearing in the film

Dr Hussein Seddiq (NOC, Tripoli)
Abdallah Khoja (NOC, Tripoli)
Prof. E. Klitzsch (Technical University of Berlin)
Dr Jonathan Craig (Chief Geologist, Eni)
Dr Daniel Le Heron (University of Hanover, formerly CASP)
Dr Nuri Fello (Repsol Oil Operations and Academy of Graduate Studies, Tripoli)
Dr Abdussalam A. Aziz (Repsol Oil Operation)
Fateh A. Belhadj (Tripoli)
David Boote (Consultant Geologist, London)
Dr Simon Beswetherick (Eni, London)
Bashir Meijrab (Shell, formerly Lasmo)
Dr Frank Lisker (University of Bremen)
Dr Sebastian Lüning (Consultant Geologist, Bremen)
Prof. Adolf Seilacher (Yale and Tübingen University)
Vince Whithams (Eni, formerly Lasmo)


Geological Evolution of southern Libya

Due to the arid climate, Palaeozoic outcrops in southern Libya are widespread and often spectacular. In many cases economically important horizons from the subsurface can be studied in greater detail in surface exposures. The visualisation of these topics in a popular video format is believed to help geologists and non-geologists to better understand the basic principles of the southern Libyan geology and by this increase efficiency of their activities in the region. An introduction to field outcrops is particularly needed, as only few geologist may get the chance to visit these sites themselves. For some geologists the standard wireline log "wiggles" may suddenly turn into something more meaningful, enhancing their geological creativity.

Palaeozoic sedimentation was controlled by a series of characteristic sea-level and climatic changes. A better understanding of the general depositional scheme helps with facies and thickness predictions in southern Libya . Here some of the more important developments to be featured in the film:

Following the Pan-African amalgamation, Infracambrian extensional structures opened up in various parts of the northern Gondwanan region, including a deep rift in the southern Kufra Basin . Around the same time, rich hydrocarbon source rocks were formed in Oman in a similar setting. In most parts of southern Libya , however, sedimentation commenced in the late Cambrian (Hasawnah Fm.), when a eustatic sea level rise triggered deposition of shallow marine and fluvial strata. Sedimentation stayed within a similar facies for the early to mid Ordovician, partly with abundant burrowing activity. During the late Ordovician a major glaciation occurred which led to deep incision into the middle and early Ordovician strata. During a subsequent sea-level rise these depressions were flooded and shales with glacial dropstones were formed (Melez Shuran Fm.). A unit dominated by prograding, mostly shallow marine sandstones (Mamuniyat Fm.) further infilled the depressions and partly incised into the substrate.

Melting of the Gondwanan ice cap led to a strong eustatic sea level rise and f black, graptolithic shales (Silurian hot shales”) were deposited in patches under anoxic conditions in small basins inherited from the end-of-glaciation relief. Continuing sea level rise eventually resulted in full circulation and deposition of green, organically lean shales. Soon, a large deltaic system commenced its gradual NW-directed progradation over North Africa with deposition of a series of shallowing upwards cycles (Akakus Fm.). By early Devonian times the shoreline had migrated over southern Libya and monotonous braided river sands were deposited instead (Tadrart Fm.). Sea level started to rise during the middle Devonian allowing shallow marine sedimentation. Further deepening of the sea led to deposition of prodeltaic/hemipelagic shales, cyclically interrupted by sandstone beds indicating temporary shallowing.

From a geodynamic perspective things in southern Libya remained quiet for most of the Palaeozoic. However, intraplate tectonics introduced to the area various phases of transtensional and transpressional stresses, leading to the formation of structures some of which later became large oil field traps. Although the Hercynian collisional front was several 1000s km to the west of Libya, far field effects led to bulk uplift and subsequent dominance of fluvial strata or non-deposition - until today. Collapse of Pangaea resulted in the formation of rift systems across North Africa during Triassic to Early Cretaceous leading to the formation of increased accommodation space and deposition of thick continental strata in both the Murzuq and Kufra basins of southern Libya . This phase represents the time of peak oil generation in the southern Libyan basins. Collision of Africa and Europe triggered Alpine uplift along the southern Mediterranean shore and is thought to have also uplifted the margins and (to a lesser extent) the basin interiors by up to several kilometres. Wetter conditions during the Pleistocene and the early Holocene led to the accumulation of huge water masses underground the southern Libyan Sahara which are still reservoired in Mesozoic and Palaeozoic sandstones and provide a valuable resource for Libya today.



Silurian Tanezzuft Shale (Ghat Outcrop Belt)





Akakus Cliff as viewed from Wadi Tanezzuft (Ghat Outcrop Belt)






Prehistoric rock art ( SW Libya )


Erosional arch in the Tadrart Fm. In the Akakus Mountains   Braided river Tadrart sandstones (early Devonian, Ghat Oucrop Belt)


The documentary training film series about the petroleum geology of southern Libya is available through the Geological Society of London Online Bookshop.




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