Depositional setting and cementation pattern of al-mejarma beachrocks, Saudi Arabia: A proxy for the late quaternary red sea coastal evolution

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Journal of Marine Science and Engineering


This study utilizes lithofacies characteristics, petrographic, XRD, and stable isotope data of Al-Mejarma beachrocks, Red Sea, Saudi Arabia, to interpret its depositional setting, origin of cement, and coastal evolution. The beachrock is 1.15 m thick, medium to very coarse-grained sandstone with scattered granules. It shows massive to graded bedding, horizontal, ripple, and shore parallel to slightly oblique planar cross-laminations, with a remarkable absence of bioturbation. It was deposited by shore-parallel longshore currents in a relatively high-energy beach environment. The framework comprises quartz, feldspars, and lithic fragments admixed with biogenic remains of algae, mollusca, foraminifera, corals, and echinoids. They are cemented by high magnesium calcite in the form of isopachous rims and pore-filling blades, and rarely, as a meniscus bridge. The mean values of δ18OVPDB and δ13CVPDB are 0.44‰ and 3.65‰, respectively, suggesting a seawater origin for the cement. The framework composition, facies geometry, and association with back-barrier lagoon impose a deposition as a shoreface-beach barrier through two stages corresponding to the middle and late Holocene. The first stage attests landward migrating sediment accumulation and rapid marine cementation. The sediments stored offshore during the early and middle Holocene humid periods migrated landward from offshore and alongshore by onshore waves and longshore drift during the middle and late Holocene sea-level highstand. They were cemented to form beachrock and subsequently emerged as the late Holocene sea-level fell.

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King Abdulaziz University



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