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Abstract

Fault zones are complex, and show considerable variability in both structure and the distribution of associated fault rocks within the fault core: the zone that localizes most strain and displacement. It is the fault-core gouge zone and associated slip surfaces which provide the cross-fault seal when permeable layers are juxtaposed. Predicting the sealing properties of fault gouge zones is difficult but often required when evaluating faults in exploration prospects. A stochastic modelling approach is described to help better understand the compositional controls on fault gouge seal potential. The model is populated with a random assemblage of four fault rock components: shale smears, shaly gouge, cataclastic gouge and low-strain host-rock lenses. Harmonic averaging of permeability and arithmetic averaging of Vshale are then used to upscale the properties, and to propose a simple permeability–Vshale model for fault rocks. Practical application of the model is discussed by developing an empirical link between standard well-log data and associated fault rock effective permeability. This new approach has the potential to offer a simple well-log-based fault seal model. The utility of the model is demonstrated with a case study, comparing the results to those generated using other published techniques.

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