ABSTRACT

Fault damage zones may significantly affect subsurface fluid migration and the development of unconventional resources. Most analyses of fault damage zones are based on direct field observations, and we expand these analyses to the subsurface by investigating the damage zone structure of an approximately 32-km (∼105-ft)-long right-lateral strike-slip fault in Oklahoma. We used the three-dimensional (3-D) seismic attribute of coherence to first define its regional and background levels, and then we evaluated the damage zone dimensions at multiple sites. We found damage zone thickness of approximately 1600 m (∼5300 ft) at a segment that is dominated by subsidiary faults, and it is slightly thicker at a segment with a pull-apart basin. The damage zone intensity decays exponentially with distance from the fault core, in agreement with field observations and distribution of seismic events. The coherence map displays a strong asymmetry of the damage zone between the two sides of the 3-D fault, which is related to the subsidiary structures of the fault zone. We discuss the effects of heterogeneous stress field on damage zone evolution through the detected subsidiary structures. It appears that seismic coherence is an effective tool for subsurface characterization of fault damage zones.

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