Friday, 10 October 2008

Image of the week #5

A slightly different image this week; this comes from the paper I've just had accepted for publication in the Journal of Stuctural Geology. This is a normal fault plane from the Gulf of Suez (surprise!), modelled in TrapTester software from our LiDAR data, and contoured for throw values (throw is the amount of vertical displacement of strata across the fault). We are in the hanging wall, looking toward the fault plane. As is typical, the throw contours are elliptical, and throw is highest at a roughly central point, decreasing outward. A reasonable assumption is that the fault initiated at the point of highest throw. This occurs at a level above the pre-rift/syn-rift contact, suggesting that this fault initiated within the syn-rift strata relatively late in the history of the rift.


Anaconda said...

This is an interesting image, which gives added detail and understanding to geological formations.

I'm curious, what, if any, significance does this have in regards to petroleum deposits and the successful exploration for same?

Paul Wilson said...


In itself, the image is probably not that helpful for petroleum exploration. I've used it to try to get some idea of the timing of faulting in the study area. If you knew the timing of hydrocarbon migration in your basin, the fault timing might tell you about seal/trap integrity. If the faults were active after hydrocarbon migration, there's a good chance that fault traps would be disrupted.

However, if you go back to the dataset from which the image was derived, it can tell you quite a lot. It is possible to map out the units that are juxtaposed across the fault: this can give important information on the likelihood of sealing across the fault.

In the study area, there is no oil or gas. But the area can be used as an analogue for other geologically similar hydrocarbon provinces. Most obviously this applies to the offshore Gulf of Suez, but it is also applicable to some parts of the North Sea (which is why StatoilHydro and ConocoPhillips have been involved).

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