Abstract

Outcrop analogue studies can significantly improve the understanding of fracture distribution and their impact on fluid flow in hydrocarbon reservoirs. In particular, the outcrops may reveal details on the relationships between mechanical stratigraphy and fracture characteristics. This has been investigated in an integrated sedimentological-structural geological study in the Aquitanian sequence of the Asmari Formation on the NE limb of the Khaviz Anticline in the Zagros foothills in SW Iran. The Aquitanian sequence was deposited in a platform top setting and is characterized by well-defined bedding planes and relatively thin layers (<4 m) with rapid changes in textures from laminated peritidal mudstones to bioclast and ooid grainstones. Fractures in the studied area dominantly strike parallel to the fold axis, have a high angle to bedding and are stratabound. In the literature it is often reported that fracture spacing or the inverse fracture intensity (FI) is controlled by the mechanical layer thickness (MLT). However, in the present study area a rather poor correlation between FI and MLT was observed. Instead, the Dunham texture appears to be more important for the FI. Mud-supported textures (mudstone and wackestone) have higher FI than grain-supported (packstone and grainstone) ones. The degree of dolomitization does not appear to have any significant effect on FI within each texture class. A strong relationship between FI and MLT is observed generally in cases where there has been one single phase of extension and when interbed contacts are weak, e.g. interbedded competent limestones and incompetent shales. However, in the present study area a rather complex deformation history exists and well-developed shales between fractured carbonate layeres are lacking. It is suggested that in such cases the MLT is of minor importance for the FI, which is controlled by the texture.

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