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The flow of oil along faults is only poorly understood. In many cases a fault is the only means of transportation for the oil from its area of deposition to its current location. This assumption is reasonable due to chemical fingerprinting of oil. In some cases the oil in a reservoir and the oil in a fault zone have been analyzed chemically and found to be the same. The problem is this; early in a fault's history it produces a thin layer of fine-grained material between its fault surfaces. This condition is not conductive to fluid flow. Therefore another mechanism must have acted on the system to facilitate fluid flow. A likely mechanism is fluid pressure. A likely hypothesis is that when the fluid pressure in a system reaches a critical point, the fault surfaces are forced apart, and fluid can flow along the fault. This continues until the pressure drops below the critical point (due to the removal of the oil that has been removed from the system) and the fault closes. This allows the pressure to build up once again, and so oil flows along the fault in a cyclic fashion.

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