Abstract

The Sand Hill fault is a steeply dipping, large-displacement normal fault that cuts poorly lithified Tertiary sediments of the Albuquerque basin, New Mexico, United States. The fault zone does not contain macroscopic fractures; the basic structural element is the deformation band. The fault core is composed of foliated clay flanked by structurally and lithologically heterogeneous mixed zones, in turn flanked by damage zones. Structures present within these fault-zone architectural elements are different from those in brittle faults formed in lithified sedimentary and crystalline rocks that do contain fractures. These differences are reflected in the permeability structure of the Sand Hill fault. Equivalent permeability calculations indicate that large-displacement faults in poorly lithified sediments have little potential to act as vertical-flow conduits and have a much greater effect on horizontal flow than faults with fractures.

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