How can we improve estimates of bulk fault zone hydraulic properties?

R.J. Lunn, Z. Shipton, Aileen Bright

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The fluid flow properties of faults are highly variable and spatially heterogeneous. We use numerical simulation of flow through field maps of detailed fault zone architecture to demonstrate that flow across the fault zone is controlled by connected high-permeability pathways, which are highly tortuous in mapped fault outcrops. Such small-scale, geometrically complex, fault zone architectural features can never be resolved for subsurface faults. Consequently, the key to prediction of subsurface bulk fault zone hydraulic properties is a statistical characterisation of the likelihood and frequency of such connected pathways. We demonstrate for a single architectural feature, the fault core, that thickness variation along strike can be well described by a spatially correlated random field with a spherical covariance structure. These data are from a single site in a specific lithology. To enable such statistics to be used to make predictions at other sites, a large number of similar datasets must be pooled. This will enable us to relate such spatial statistics to gross properties such as host rock lithology and fault throw, which are measurable for subsurface faults.
LanguageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Internal Structure of Fault Zones: Implications for Mechanical and Fluid-Flow Properties - Special Publication no. 299
Pages231-237
Number of pages6
Volume299
Edition299
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Fingerprint

hydraulic property
fault zone
lithology
prediction
host rock
fluid flow
outcrop
permeability
simulation

Keywords

  • hydraulics
  • cicil engineering
  • mechanics
  • geology
  • fluid dynamics

Cite this

Lunn, R. J., Shipton, Z., & Bright, A. (2008). How can we improve estimates of bulk fault zone hydraulic properties? In The Internal Structure of Fault Zones: Implications for Mechanical and Fluid-Flow Properties - Special Publication no. 299 (299 ed., Vol. 299, pp. 231-237) https://doi.org/10.1144/SP299.14
Lunn, R.J. ; Shipton, Z. ; Bright, Aileen. / How can we improve estimates of bulk fault zone hydraulic properties?. The Internal Structure of Fault Zones: Implications for Mechanical and Fluid-Flow Properties - Special Publication no. 299. Vol. 299 299. ed. 2008. pp. 231-237
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Lunn, RJ, Shipton, Z & Bright, A 2008, How can we improve estimates of bulk fault zone hydraulic properties? in The Internal Structure of Fault Zones: Implications for Mechanical and Fluid-Flow Properties - Special Publication no. 299. 299 edn, vol. 299, pp. 231-237. https://doi.org/10.1144/SP299.14

How can we improve estimates of bulk fault zone hydraulic properties? / Lunn, R.J.; Shipton, Z.; Bright, Aileen.

The Internal Structure of Fault Zones: Implications for Mechanical and Fluid-Flow Properties - Special Publication no. 299. Vol. 299 299. ed. 2008. p. 231-237.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

TY - CHAP

T1 - How can we improve estimates of bulk fault zone hydraulic properties?

AU - Lunn, R.J.

AU - Shipton, Z.

AU - Bright, Aileen

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N2 - The fluid flow properties of faults are highly variable and spatially heterogeneous. We use numerical simulation of flow through field maps of detailed fault zone architecture to demonstrate that flow across the fault zone is controlled by connected high-permeability pathways, which are highly tortuous in mapped fault outcrops. Such small-scale, geometrically complex, fault zone architectural features can never be resolved for subsurface faults. Consequently, the key to prediction of subsurface bulk fault zone hydraulic properties is a statistical characterisation of the likelihood and frequency of such connected pathways. We demonstrate for a single architectural feature, the fault core, that thickness variation along strike can be well described by a spatially correlated random field with a spherical covariance structure. These data are from a single site in a specific lithology. To enable such statistics to be used to make predictions at other sites, a large number of similar datasets must be pooled. This will enable us to relate such spatial statistics to gross properties such as host rock lithology and fault throw, which are measurable for subsurface faults.

AB - The fluid flow properties of faults are highly variable and spatially heterogeneous. We use numerical simulation of flow through field maps of detailed fault zone architecture to demonstrate that flow across the fault zone is controlled by connected high-permeability pathways, which are highly tortuous in mapped fault outcrops. Such small-scale, geometrically complex, fault zone architectural features can never be resolved for subsurface faults. Consequently, the key to prediction of subsurface bulk fault zone hydraulic properties is a statistical characterisation of the likelihood and frequency of such connected pathways. We demonstrate for a single architectural feature, the fault core, that thickness variation along strike can be well described by a spatially correlated random field with a spherical covariance structure. These data are from a single site in a specific lithology. To enable such statistics to be used to make predictions at other sites, a large number of similar datasets must be pooled. This will enable us to relate such spatial statistics to gross properties such as host rock lithology and fault throw, which are measurable for subsurface faults.

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KW - mechanics

KW - geology

KW - fluid dynamics

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Lunn RJ, Shipton Z, Bright A. How can we improve estimates of bulk fault zone hydraulic properties? In The Internal Structure of Fault Zones: Implications for Mechanical and Fluid-Flow Properties - Special Publication no. 299. 299 ed. Vol. 299. 2008. p. 231-237 https://doi.org/10.1144/SP299.14