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Faults have complicated shapes. Non-planarity of faults can be caused by variations in failure modes, which in turn are dictated by mechanical stratigraphy interacting with the ambient stress field, as well as by linkage of fault segments. Different portions of a fault or fault zone may experience volume gain, volume conservation and volume loss simultaneously depending on the position along a fault's surface, the stresses resolved on the fault and the associated deformation mechanisms. This variation in deformation style and associated volume change has a profound effect on the ability of a fault to transmit (or impede) fluid both along and across the fault. In this paper we explore interrelated concepts of failure mode and resolved stress analysis, and provide examples of fault geometry in normal faulting and reverse faulting stress regimes that illustrate the effects of fault geometry on failure behaviour and related importance to fluid transmission. In particular, we emphasize the utility of using relative dilation tendency v. slip tendency on fault patches as a predictor of deformation behaviour, and suggest this parameter space as a new tool for evaluating conduit v. seal behaviour of faults.

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