The type section of the Maikop Group (Oligocene-Lower Miocene) at the Belaya River (North Caucasus): Depositional environment and hydrocarbon potential

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External Organisational units

  • Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam (GFZ)


The type section of the Oligocene to lower Miocene Maikop Group, considered the main source rock in the eastern Paratethys, has been studied using geochemical proxies to gain insights into depositional setting and hydrocarbon potential.

The Maikop Group at the type section is about 600 m [2000 ft.] thick. Deposition commenced after a major late Eocene sea level drop and a subsequent early Oligocene sea level rise. The Maikop Group is composed mainly of carbonate-free pelitic rocks. Calcareous rocks are limited to the lower Oligocene succession, including the Polbian bed that forms a basin-wide marker horizon deposited during a time with significantly decreased salinity (“Solenovian event”). Anoxic conditions prevailed and were only interrupted for longer periods during deposition of the lower part of the lower Oligocene Pshekha Formation, the Polbian Bed and the lower Miocene Olginskaya Formation.

TOC contents range up to 3.5 wt.%. HI values are typically below 300 mgHC/gTOC, but reach 420 mgHC/gTOC in black shales overlying the Polbian Bed (lower Morozkina Balka Fm.). Organic richness of this level, about 10 m [33 ft.] thick, is controlled by low salinity and high bioproductivity.

The Maikop Group could generate approximately 2.0 tHC/m² surface area. A significant part (0.45 t/m²) comes from the lower Morozkina Balka Formation, which generates a high-wax paraffinic-naphthenic-aromatic mixed oil. The Pshekha, upper Morozkina Balka and Batalpashinsk Formations would generate low-wax oil or condensate. The hydrocarbon generation potential of the overlying formations is minor. Overall, the generation potential of the Maikop Group is surprisingly low.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-319
Number of pages31
JournalAAPG bulletin
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017