ABSTRACT

Fracturing is an important mechanism of porosity development in deformed hydrocarbon provinces such as the Eastern Overthrust belt, but the sizes and shapes of fractured zones place critical constraints on exploration strategies. Fracturing and brecciation associated with the Max Meadows thrust, along which the Cambrian Rome Formation have been emplaced atop the younger Cambrian Elbrook and Conococheague Formations of the Pulaski thrust sheet, are controlled by lithology, proximity to the fault, and mesoscopic folding. Within the Max Meadows sheet, Rome carbonates are highly fractured and, in fold cores near the fault, brecciated. Rome mudstones and sandstones are tightly folded, and near the fault have developed both an incipient axial planar cleavage and a set of closely spaced fractures striking perpendicular to fold axes. In comparison, the wholly carbonate sequence of the Pulaski sheet had earlier been folded into a large syncline characterized by bedding-parallel shear in shaly and thin-bedded layers, flexural slip folding, and localized fracturing of thick layers. Thus breccia and fracture porosity zones in the study area are highly localized, of irregular geometry, and essentially restricted to the upper thrust sheet. Zones of tectonic breccia and fracture porosity are not attractive exploration targets, then, unless they occur as uniform and widespread broken zones in sedimentologically and mechanically homogeneous beds.

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