Firstly, fascinated by petrology, I finished my six years’ education in Geology after receiving my master, with a thesis in Metamorphic Petrology from Tehran university, Iran in 2001. Due to family commitments, I rejected the nomination for PhD scholarship in Metamorphic petrology that had been offered by CNRS for the MEBE project, and I headed, instead, to the Geological Survey of Iran (GSI) to be a field geologist for seven years in diverse area, from desert to forest, where I saw how vast, complicated, sophisticated and charming field could be. GSI was the best place to meet some international geologists such as the late Jacques Angelier (University of Pierre and Marie Curie), James Jackson (Cambridge University), Philip Agard (Sorbonne Universités) with main tendency to tectonics. Working in the southern Caspian Sea forests, where thick Jurassic black shale crops out within a complex tectonic style, approached me to the Petroleum Geology of this basin.

In 2009, I moved to Iraqi Ministry of Oil (MoO) to become a “desk-geologist” working with software on petroleum data and specially on GIS database, a job that led me to “subsurface geology” or the “blind world” when we could see nothing except zigzag long lines of logs with some crushed drill cuttings, rarely cylindrical cores and seismic wave traces, comparing to field geology. The instigation of international contracts for the development Iraqi oil fields facilitated some training courses in Japan (JOGMEC), China (CNOOC), Turkey and Norway (NPD) in Petrophysics, Petroleum system and sequence stratigraphy with some international sequence stratigraphers such as Makoto Ito (Chiba University), and eventually allowed me to come to Keele University, on the scholarship that was offered by Shell company.

Research and scholarship


The Albian clastic reservoir evolution of the east-southeast of the Mesopotamian Basin: Geological Modelling evaluation

The Mesopotamian basin is delineated by two main faults: Abu Jir and Zagros Deformation Front (ZDF). More recent researches suggest new northern continuation for Abu Jir fault that presented new area for the basin, in addition to extending it north-westwards to include Al Jazira area which was considered as a part of Rutba-Al Jazira zone. Rutba-Al Jazira zone was proposed to be the northern part of long-lived N-S trending Hail-Rutba arch, while it has been separated from each other in new studies. In Iraq, Abu Jir fault divided the Arabian platform to an unstable shelf in the east that encloses the Mesopotamian basin and a stable shelf in the west that includes the western desert zone (The previous Rutba subzone). Hence, in the new tectonic division, the Mesopotamian zone consists of three subzones: Basrah subzone in the south, the Mesopotamian subzone in the middle and Al Jazirah subzone in the north. Basrah subzone is characterized by its N-S trend folds that are mainly attributed to Precambrian-Cambrian salt distribution. The Mesopotamian subzone is dominated by two types of NW-SE trending folds: Simple buckle folds and fault-related folds. Al Jazira subzone shows two trends of structures: NW-SE fault-related folds and ENE- WSW trend structures.
To achieve a comprehensive view of the Mesopotamian basin evolution, there are few studies had carried on. The migration of depocenters of Phanerozoic successions inside and outside of the Mesopotamian basin has been suggested that was not clearly explained. However, some studies show the steady westward migration of foreland basins during Cenozoic that eventually formed the Mesopotamian foreland basin in Neogene. In terms of geodynamics, this basin located on the northeast margin of the Arabian plate where Neo-Tethys ocean opened after Late Permian-Triassic rifting. The arc-continent collision of Late Cretaceous initiated Zagros orogeny and resulted in some local foreland basin in parallel to it. The main stage of Zagros orogeny has been started in Eocene by the continent-continent collision that developed the Mesopotamian foreland basin.
In Mesozoic, the main discovered petroleum source rocks and reservoirs of the basin had been formed. Jurassic and Late Cretaceous hosted organic-rich basins that became source rocks later. The variation in the depositional environments during Cretaceous provided good reservoirs within the basin. There are just two clastic formations in the Mesozoic succession that the Albian clastic Nahr Umr formation represents the second deltaic system within the Arabian plate. This formation has a wide distribution in the east and northeast of the Arabian plate. The Arabian shield in the west of the plate was suggested as the main clastic source for this formation. The Albian facies changed to be carbonate-dominated in the east. This formation has been studied in the middle and the south of Mesopotamian basin while the south-east part has been less studied. This Albian clastic formation shows a lateral facies change and a lateral change in reservoir properties in the south-east of the Mesopotamian basin where is less studied. This lateral facies change that has been also recorded in the Aptian carbonate formation, was related to a tectonic activity such as the activity of Tikrit-Baghdad faults, while the continuation of these faults in the project area, the south east of the Mesopotamian basin, has not been proved. This project aims to study and assess this tectonic activity using burial history charts and applying backstripping and then to investigate the depositional environment in sequence stratigraphy concept and recognise its sequences and to find the relationship between the depositional environment and reservoir properties. For this purpose, depth maps, well logs, final well reports and geological evaluation studies for 8 oil fields within the project area, have been provided. Drill cuttings/cores samples also will be provided to study petrography, Quartz and heavy mineral grain size distributions and to analysis sandstone horizons by SEM for identifying their depositional environment and their pores types. Shale horizons will be analysed by XRD to distinguish clay types. Based on well log interpretation, a 3D facies model will be constructed and will compare with the 3D reservoir property model to show the relationship between them.


Madhaj, L., Azodi, A.A., Narimani, H. ,2006. The study of the crystal sizes distribution (CSD) of cordierite in the southern part of contact metamorphic aureole of the Shah-kuh pluton (East Iran). The 24th Symposium of Geo-Sciences, Geological Survey of Iran, Tehran, Iran.

Kohansal, R., Allah Madadi, Sh., Madhaj, L. , Zolfaghari, S., Mohammad-Khani, H. ,2006. The Stratigraphy and Palaeontology of Paleocene Lithofacies in Marri Area. The 24th Symposium of Geo-Sciences, Geological Survey of Iran, Tehran, Iran.

Layth Kadhim Mahmood ,2011. A General view on Tectonic role in Petroleum system of Eastern fields. The 2nd International Conference on Iraq Oil studies, Baghdad University, Baghdad, Iraq.


Esmaeili, D., Valizadeh, M.V.V. , Madhaj, L., 2003. A View on the contact Metamorphism of the southern part of Shah-kuh Granitic Pluton (Eastern Iran). Journal of Science University of Tehran. 29 (1), pp.53-70.

Geological Survey of Iran, 2003. Geological map of Vafs, Scale1:100, 000.

Geological Survey of Iran, 2004. Geological map of Arak ,Scale 1:100,000.

Geological Survey of Iran, 2005. Geological map of Khondab, scale1:100, 000.

Geological Survey of Iran, 2005(field study). Geological map of Marri, Scale1:100, 000.

Geological Survey of Iran, 2006 (field study). Geological map of  Hamzeh Deh, Scale1:25, 000.

Geological Survey of Iran, 2006 (field study). Geological map of Kojour, Scale1:25, 000.

Geological Survey of Iran, 2006 (field study). Geological map of Pul, Scale1:25, 000.

Geological Survey of Iran, 2006 (field study). Geological map of Nezam Abad, Scale1:25, 000.

Geological Survey of Iran, 2007& 2008 (field study). Geological map of Qamser, Scale1:25, 000.

Geological Survey of Iran, 2008 (field study). Geological map of Khonb, Scale1:25, 000.

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