Abstract

A set of regional natural fractures, present in the sandy to conglomeratic, fluvial, channel-fill deposits of the Cedar Mountain Formation (east-central Utah) has a consistent west-northwest strike regardless of the local axial orientations of the sinuous channels. The fracture-producing stresses were not significantly refracted by the mechanical-property contrast between the channel-fill sandstones and the encasing overbank mudstones. In addition, fracture spacing along the sinuous channel axes is relatively constant between one-half and one-third of the bed thickness for both large fractures that cut the full thickness of the channel deposits and for smaller fractures in the thinner, component beds. Fracture spacing was apparently not affected by the variations in stress amplification that commonly result from differently oriented stiff inclusions in a ductile matrix. Therefore, in the absence of other structures, fracture intensity and the orientation of fracture-related maximum horizontal permeability in sinuous elongated reservoirs will be relatively constant regardless of the orientation of the long axis of the reservoir. Whether maximum permeability trends along, oblique, or across such reservoirs, and the relative drainage efficiency of horizontal versus vertical wellbores drilled into them, will vary only with the local trend of the channel axis.

You do not currently have access to this article.