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Abstract

Because of the importance of understanding the association of folds and fractures in the hydrocarbon and mining industry, a considerable amount of work has been undertaken to establish the geometric relationship between these structures. The structures are linked in a variety of ways. Sometimes, as for example in the formation of fractures in the inner and outer arcs of the hinge zones of single-layer folds or of accommodation thrusts in the hinge regions of multilayer folds, it is the process of folding that generates the fractures. At other times, as in the formation of a fault-bend fold and other types of forced folds, the reverse is true. In this paper an attempt is made to look briefly at the various types of fold-fracture associations found in nature and, by considering the evolution of a typical fold–thrust belt, obtain an insight into the controls on the temporal and spatial organization of the different types of folds and their associated fractures that form in this tectonic regime. The role of fluids in the initiation of both folds and thrusts is considered, as is the subsequent impact of these structures on fluid migration. It is shown that understanding the links between stress, fluid pressure, fracturing and folding provides a clear insight into the fluid mechanics operating in an active fold–thrust belt.

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