The implications of fracture swarms in the Chalk of SE England on the tectonic history of the basin and their impact on fluid flow in high-porosity, low-permeability rocks
Published:January 01, 2007
Mandefro Belayneh, Stephan K. Matthäi, John W. Cosgrove, 2007. "The implications of fracture swarms in the Chalk of SE England on the tectonic history of the basin and their impact on fluid flow in high-porosity, low-permeability rocks", Deformation of the Continental Crust: The Legacy of Mike Coward, A. C. Ries, R. W. H. Butler, R. H. Graham
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The Upper Cretaceous (Senonian) Chalk in Kent, SE England, is considered with the aim of establishing the tectonic history of the basin in which it was deposited, based on the chronology of fractures and an understanding of the role of these fractures in controlling fluid movement in high-porosity-low-permeability sediments. The earliest brittle structures in the study area are NE-SW-striking, flint-filled shear fractures, with dips of c. 60°, which were formed when the maximum compression (σ1) was vertical and were utilized as channels for fluid movement during flint filling. Flint also occurs along bedding planes, suggesting a diagenetic source. This phase was followed by the development of NW-SE-striking fracture swarms containing fractures ranging between vertical joints and steeply dipping hybrid fractures with acute dihedral angles of c. 40°. The absence of flint along these fractures indicates that they formed after diagenesis of the Chalk. NW-SE-striking, subvertical, regularly spaced, through-going joints then formed as a result of a NW-SE regional compression linked to the Alpine collision. The final stage in the basin history relates to the formation of bed-parallel and vertical (i.e. bed-normal), bed-restricted, systematic and unsystematic fractures associated with uplift and unloading. To model fluid flow through the fracture network present in the Chalk, a finite-element-finite-volume modelling was carried out. The fracture geometries mapped in the field were discretized using unstructured hybrid element meshes with discrete fracture representations. The permeability of fractures was calculated from the cubic law and the petrophysical properties of the rock matrix were taken from Chalk reservoirs in the North Sea. In the models, a constant pressure was applied at the top of the oil-saturated, fractured Chalk while water was injected at the base. In spite of greater density, the water preferentially displaced the oil from the fractures and migrated faster through the fracture swarms and joints than through bed-restricted fractures and the rock matrix. Almost 830f the total flow within the model occurred through the fractures. The results of the field study, combined with those of the numerical modelling, suggest that fracture swarms have a strong impact on the movement of fluids in fractured and faulted reservoirs.
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Deformation of the Continental Crust: The Legacy of Mike Coward
This Special Publication, in memory and celebration of the work of Professor Mike Coward, is about the deformation of the continental lithosphere. The collected papers discuss geometry, structural principles, processes and problems in a wide range of tectonic settings and thereby reflect the breadth of Coward's interests. They encompass the evolution of Precambrian basement gneiss terrains, the geometry and evolution of thrust systems, basement involvement and structural inheritance in basins, syn-orogenic extension, salt tectonics, the implication of structural evolution on hydrocarbon prospectivity and structural controls on mineralization. Examples are drawn from the Lewisian and Moine Thrust Belt of NW Scotland, the Italian Apennines, NW Himalayas, the Cyclades, Oman, Zagros Mountains, Colombian Cordillera, Carpathians, North Sea, offshore Brazil, regional studies of the Irumide Belt (central Africa), Taurus Mountains (Turkey), greater South America, and from the Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa and the Antler Orogeny of SW USA.