Abstract

Using examples from core studies, this article shows that separate identification of mechanical stratigraphy and fracture stratigraphy leads to a clearer understanding of fracture patterns and more accurate prediction of fracture attributes away from the wellbore. Mechanical stratigraphy subdivides stratified rock into discrete mechanical units defined by properties such as tensile strength, elastic stiffness, brittleness, and fracture mechanics properties. Fracture stratigraphy subdivides rock into fracture units according to extent, intensity, or some other observed fracture attribute. Mechanical stratigraphy is the by-product of depositional composition and structure, and chemical and mechanical changes superimposed on rock composition, texture, and interfaces after deposition. Fracture stratigraphy reflects a specific loading history and mechanical stratigraphy during failure. Because mechanical property changes reflect diagenesis and fractures evolve with loading history, mechanical stratigraphy and fracture stratigraphy need not coincide. In subsurface studies, current mechanical stratigraphy is generally measurable, but because of inherent limitations of sampling, fracture stratigraphy is commonly incompletely known. To accurately predict fractures in diagenetically and structurally complex settings, we need to use evidence of loading and mechanical property history as well as current mechanical states.

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