Title

Structural Heterogeneity and Permeability in Faulted Eolian Sandstone: Implications for Subsurface Modeling of Faults

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin

Volume

86

Issue

5

Publisher

American Association of Petroleum Geologists

Publication Date

2002

First Page

863

Last Page

883

DOI

10.1306/61EEDBC0-173E-11D7-8645000102C1865D

Abstract

We determined the structure and permeability variations of a 4 km-long normal fault by integrating surface mapping with data from five boreholes drilled through the fault (borehole to tens of meters scale). The Big Hole fault outcrops in the Jurassic Navajo Sandstone, central Utah. A total of 363.2 m of oriented drill core was recovered at two sites where fault displacement is 8 and 3-5 m. The main fault core is a narrow zone of intensely comminuted grains that is a maximum of 30 cm thick and is composed of low-porosity amalgamated deformation bands that have slip surfaces on one or both sides. Probe permeameter measurements showed a permeability decline from greater than 2000 to less than 0.1 md as the fault is approached. Whole-core analyses showed that fault core permeability is less than 1 md and individual deformation band permeability is about 1 md. Using these data, we calculated the bulk permeability of the fault zone. Calculated transverse permeability over length scales of 5-10 m is 30-40 md, approximately 1-4% the value of the host rock. An inverse power mean calculation (representing a fault array with complex geometry) yielded total fault-zone permeabilities of 7-57 md. The bulk fault-zone permeability is most sensitive to variations in fault core thickness, which exhibits the greatest variability of the fault components.