Abstract

Extensional basins often evolve both with the generation of normal faults at all scales, and with tilting in the hanging walls and footwalls of major structures. This paper examines the effect of regional tilting on the development of normal fault arrays in an anisotropic sequence, using the asymmetric Lodève Basin, France, as a case study. The orientation range of normal faults is found not to match that expected by continued symmetric generation of conjugate normal faults during tilting. Instead, continued generation of new faults preferentially occurred for faults dipping opposite to the direction of tilt, with propagation perpendicular to bedding. The presence of early bedding-perpendicular joints in the competent sandstone units aided propagation of these faults during tilting and this preferential asymmetric development. Bedding-parallel slip surfaces were activated as normal faults during the later stages of bedding tilting, showing complex interaction patterns with later faults downthrowing in the direction opposite to bedding tilting. Hence knowledge of the timing between tilting of the strata and deformation helps in evaluating the likely complexity of fault arrays at subseismic scales in extensional basins, and may also help in understanding the evolution of fault systems in tilted normal fault blocks at the reservoir scale.

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