Distant off-fault damage and gold mineralization: the impact of rock heterogeneity

Heather Moir, Rebecca Lunn, S. Micklethwaite, Zoe Shipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Field observations have established that fault-related damage can occur at locations, far from the principal slip surface, which are well outside the fractured region currently predicted by models of fault damage. We use a finite element model to simulate fracture initiation due to fault linkage and show how variations in rock properties allow off-fault damage to develop at surprisingly large distances away from the main fault. Off-fault damage continues to grow even after two adjacent, closely spaced fault segments have interacted and linked. We demonstrate that this process was important for the formation of fracture-hosted gold deposits in the Mount Pleasant goldfield, Western Australia. The strength of lithological contacts also has a significant impact on off-fault damage location and intensity. Our approach may go some way to explaining the non-intuitive distribution of mineralization in certain mineral systems, as well as being applicable to predict subsurface fracturing and fluid flow in hydrothermal/geothermal reservoirs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-467
Number of pages7
Early online date9 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2013


  • numerical modeling
  • fault zone
  • stepover
  • gold
  • subsurface fracturing
  • fault-related damage


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