Abstract

The E-W–trending Jabal Qusaybah anticline, at the western termination of the Salakh arch, Oman Mountains, is characterized by a complex fault network that developed in layered Cretaceous carbonates. This network includes NE-SW left-lateral, N-S extensional, and subordinate E-W extensional fault zones. The N-S–striking extensional faults zones are roughly perpendicular to the fold axis and are best developed in the longitudinally bulged central sector of the anticlinal crest. They are likely due to along-strike outer-arc extension associated with positive fault inversion and salt migration. These extensional fault zones are confined within, and locally abut, major NE-SW left-lateral strike-slip fault zones. Extensional fault displacements range between a few decimeters and ∼60 m, whereas the maximum exposed trace lengths range between a few meters and ∼800 m. Narrow (∼1–15-cm-thick) cataclastic fault cores are surrounded by vein-dominated damage zones as thick as tens of meters. Moreover, fault zones show widespread evidence for substantial dilation in the form of (1) dilation breccias, (2) infilling by large columnar calcite crystals and aggregates, and (3) centimeter- to meter-thick veins. Dilation breccias and calcite infillings are primarily localized at fault tips, fault overlaps, and interaction zones between strike-slip and extensional fault segments. Displacement profiles along the N-S–striking extensional fault zones indicate that they are one order of magnitude shorter than values predicted by most published displacement-length scaling laws. By analyzing fault abutting geometries, detailed vein relative chronology, δ13C and δ18O signatures, and fluid inclusion data from calcite veins and calcite fault infillings, we propose a model whereby a deep-seated, regionally sized, left-lateral strike-slip fault system that was active during anticline growth inhibited the lateral propagation of late-stage transversal extensional fault zones. Our findings show that, in this geological setting, the structural position, rather than fault displacement, is the parameter controlling the location of the more dilatants (and permeable) fault segments. Results of the present work suggest that fault intersections may be more useful than fault throw for predicting zones of enhanced vertical fluid flow in structurally complex carbonate reservoirs.

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