Abstract

Fracture-hosted porosity and quartz distribution along with crack-seal texture and fluid inclusion assemblage sequences in isolated, bridging quartz deposits show that open fractures can persist through protracted burial and uplift in foreland basins. Fractures oriented at a high angle to current maximum compressive stress remain open and were weak mechanical discontinuities for millions of years even at great depth. Upper Cretaceous Frontier Formation sandstones in the basement-involved (Laramide) Table Rock anticline, eastern Greater Green River Basin, Wyoming sampled by two horizontal wells (cut parallel or nearly parallel to bedding and at a high angle to steeply dipping fractures) have 41.5 m of rock in four cores at depths of 4538–4547 m. Cores intersect older E-striking Set 1 fractures are abutted by or locally cross-cut by N-striking Set 2 fractures. Both sets contain quartz and porosity. Sequenced using quartz crack-seal cement texture maps, Set 1 fluid inclusion assemblage (FIA) trapping temperatures increase progressively from 140 to 165°C then decrease to c. 150°C, compatible with fracture opening over c. 15 Ma during rapid burial followed by uplift in Eocene–Oligocene time. Set 2 opened at c. 160°C, probably near maximum burial. After a period of quiescence, Set 2 reopened at c. 5 Ma at c. 140°C, on a cooling trajectory. Intermittent Set 2 movement could reflect local basement-involved fault movement, followed after a pause by further Set 2 reactivation in the modern stress field during uplift. Interpretations are sensitive to available burial/thermal histories, which have considerable uncertainty.

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