Applied Middle East Late Palaeozoic Palynology: Solving Geological Problems

A AAPG online course, 1-3 June 2020

Course Description

This course will cover aspects of Palaeozoic applied palynology for the Middle East – an area where palynology still has a significant impact. The course begins with a basic description of the lithology, structure and geological history of the Middle East Late Palaeozoic. It then describes some of the problems solved by palynology in sequences where seismic and logs do no provide the certainty required. It looks into the chief groups of spores and pollen in Middle Eastern Late Palaeozoic successions, spending time on around 20 of the most important single palynomorph taxa that have special stratigraphic significance for correlation and palynological characterization.

The last part of the course concentrates on case studies and real applications of Late Palaeozoic palynology in problem-solving both in relation to Earth history but also specific to industry. Regional case studies will cover the Carboniferous-Permian of Oman, the Devonian of Saudi Arabia, the Hercynian unconformity in Iraq, the Carboniferous-Permian of the Pakistan Salt Range, and the Permian-Triassic of Israel and Jordan. Industry case studies will cover the Jauf and Unayzah formations, and the Al Khlata and Gharif formations, as well as palynology and reservoir heterogeneity, well steering and facies time slices.

The course will be delivered entirely online via Zoom.


  1. Regional geology and structure of the Late Palaeozoic of the Middle East and Levant
  2. Basic Late Palaeozoic palynological taxonomy and key stratigraphically important taxa
  3. Uses of palynology in stratigraphy and correlation, particularly in relation to petroleum geology at a regional and field scale
  4. Uses of palynology in specific petroleum geological problem solving
  5. Uses and abuses of palynology


Prof Mike Stephenson (British Geological Survey) has over 22 years of experience in applied palynology with a particular focus on the Middle East with over 40 peer-reviewed papers on the area. Mike began his career with a PhD at Sheffield University on the palynology of the Carboniferous-Permian of Saudi Arabia and Oman focussing on the Unayzah and Al Khlata formations with sample material from Saudi Aramco and Petroleum Development Oman. In 2003 Mike along with other industry professionals published a palynological biozonation for the Carboniferous-Permian of Saudi Arabia and Oman which is still in use today and which has helped to elucidate many stratigraphic problems across the Middle East establishing new correlations and relationships within complex glacial and post glacial sequences of a fast evolving Gondwana region. Following his PhD, Mike worked with all the major companies in the Middle East on sequences from the Ordovician to the Triassic but mainly on the Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian. Mike has published widely quoted reviews of the Permian of the world and is the Vice Chair of the Sub-commission on Permian Stratigraphy. He also the Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier scientific journal Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology and has Professorships at the universities of Leicester, Nottingham, Milan (Italy) and Nanjing (China). His most recent palynology work focuses on the Permian and Triassic of Israel and Jordan.