Normal faults measured in exposures of Cretaceous carbonate rocks in Texas provide the basis for fault-strain determination, analysis of fault displacements, and exploring the function of mechanical stratigraphy in influencing fault-size distributions. Layer competence and competence contrast, measured using a Schmidt hammer, allow the analysis of mechanical stratigraphy. Fault frequency and displacement distributions exhibit patterns that correlate to mechanical stratigraphy. In particular, the average competence contrast is related to the exponent (C) of cumulative frequency versus displacement distributions as described by log(cumulative frequency) = (−C) × log(displacement) + A. This correlation between competence contrast and C values is interpreted to indicate that, at low competence contrast, there are many potential nucleation sites for faults and no mechanisms by which fault displacement can be filtered. In addition, several frequency versus displacement distributions exhibit steep sections, indicating a clustering of fault displacement(s). Clustering of fault displacement(s) is also interpreted as the result of low-competence layers inhibiting the propagation of faults through the layering until a threshold displacement has been reached. This has the effect of creating a cluster of faults with displacements near the threshold displacement value. These patterns are true both for data sets surveyed along a scan line and along a key bed. An appreciation of these effects of mechanical stratigraphy on fault displacement distributions is important when using observed data to infer subseismic fault populations during reservoir evaluation and modeling.

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