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Abstract

Little is known about the effect of thrusting on lithological and petrophysical properties of reservoir sandstone. Here we use field observations, probe permeability measurements and thin-section analysis along ten transects from the Muddy Mountain thrust contact downwards into the underlying Jurassic Aztec Sandstone to evaluate the nature and extent of petrophysical and microstructural changes caused by the thrusting. The results reveal a decimetre- to metre-thick low-permeable (≤50 mD) and indurated (0–3% porosity) zone immediately beneath the thrust contact in which dominant microscale processes, in decreasing order of importance, are (1) cataclasis with local fault gouge formation; (2) pressure solution; and (3) very limited cementation. From this narrow zone the petrophysical and microstructural effect of the thrusting decreases gradually downwards into a friable, highly porous (c. 25%) and permeable (≤2 D) sandstone some 50–150 m below the thrust, in which strain is localized into deformation band populations. In general, the petrophysical properties of the sandstone as a result of overthrusting reveal little impact in overall primary reservoir quality below some tens of metres into the footwall, except for the relatively minor baffling effect of deformation bands.

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