Fault-related deformation over geologic time : integrating field observations, high resolution geospatial data and numerical modeling to investigate 3D geometry and non-linear material behavior
- A thorough understanding of the kinematic and mechanical evolution of fault-related structures is of great value, both academic (e.g. How do mountains form?) and practical (e.g. How are valuable hydrocarbons trapped in fault-related folds?). Precise knowledge of the present-day geometry is necessary to know where to drill for hydrocarbons. Understanding the evolution of a structure, including displacement fields, strain and stress history, may offer powerful insights to how and if hydrocarbons might have migrated, and the most efficient way to extract them. Small structures, including faults, fractures, pressure solution seams, and localized compaction, which may strongly influence subsurface fluid flow, may be predictable with a detailed mechanical understanding of a structure's evolution. The primary focus of this thesis is the integration of field observations, geospatial data including airborne LiDAR, and numerical modeling to investigate three dimensional deformational patterns associated with fault slip accumulated over geologic time scales. The work investigates contractional tectonics at Sheep Mountain anticline, Greybull, WY, and extensional tectonics at the Volcanic Tableland, Bishop, CA. A detailed geometric model is a necessary prerequisite for complete kinematic or mechanical analysis of any structure. High quality 3D seismic imaging data provides the means to characterize fold geometry for many subsurface industrial applications; however, such data is expensive, availability is limited, and data quality is often poor in regions of high topography where outcrop exposures are best. A new method for using high resolution topographic data, geologic field mapping and numerical interpolation is applied to model the 3D geometry of a reservoir-scale fold at Sheep Mountain anticline. The Volcanic Tableland is a classic field site for studies of fault slip scaling relationships and conceptual models for evolution of normal faults. Three dimensional elastic models are used to constrain subsurface fault geometry from detailed maps of fault scarps and topography, and to reconcile two potentially competing conceptual models for fault growth: by coalescence and by subsidiary faulting. The Tableland fault array likely initiated as a broad array of small faults, and as some have grown and coalesced, their strain shadows have inhibited the growth and initiation of nearby faults. The Volcanic Tableland also is used as a geologic example in a study of the capabilities and limitations of mechanics-based restoration, a relatively new approach to modeling in structural geology that provides distinct advantages over traditional kinematic methods, but that is significantly hampered by unphysical boundary conditions. The models do not accurately represent geological strain and stress distributions, as many have hoped. A new mechanics-based retrodeformational technique that is not subject to the same unphysical boundary conditions is suggested. However, the method, which is based on reversal of tectonic loads that may be optimized by paleostress analysis, restores only that topography which may be explained by an idealized elastic model. Elastic models are appealing for mechanical analysis of fault-related deformation because the linear nature of such models lends itself to retrodeformation and provides computationally efficient and stable numerical implementation for simulating slip distributions and associated deformation in complicated 3D fault systems. However, cumulative rock deformation is not elastic. Synthetic models are applied to investigate the implications of assuming elastic deformation and frictionless fault slip, as opposed to a more realistic elasto-plastic deformation with frictional fault slip. Results confirm that elastic models are limited in their ability to simulate geologic stress distributions, but that they may provide a reasonable, first-order approximation of strain tensor orientation and the distribution of relative strain perturbations, particularly distal from fault tips. The kinematics of elastic and elasto-plastic models diverge in the vicinity of fault tips. Results emphasize the importance of accurately and completely representing subsurface fault geometry in linear or nonlinear models.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Lovely, Peter James
|Stanford University, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.
|Pollard, David D
|Pollard, David D
|Hilley, George E
|Zoback, Mark D
|Hilley, George E
|Zoback, Mark D
|Statement of responsibility
|Peter James Lovely.
|Submitted to the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.
|Ph.D. Stanford University 2011
- © 2011 by Peter James Lovely
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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