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Fracturing and fluid-flow during post-rift subsidence in carbonates of the Jandaíra Formation,Potiguar Basin,NE BrazilNormal access

Authors: G. Bertotti, S. de Graaf, K. Bisdom, B. Oskam, H.B. Vonhof, F.H.R. Bezerra, J.J.G. Reijmer and C.L. Cazarin
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 29, No 6, December 2017 pp. 836 - 853
DOI: 10.1111/bre.12246
Organisations: Wiley
Language: English
Info: Article, PDF ( 5.22Mb )

Pervasive fracture networks are common in many reservoir-scale carbonate bodies even in the absence of large deformation and exert a major impact on their mechanical and flow behaviour. The Upper Cretaceous Jandaıra Formation is a few hundred meters thick succession of shallow water carbonates deposited during the early post-rift stage of the Potiguar rift (NE Brazil). The Jandaıra Formation in the present onshore domain experienced <1.5 km thermal subsidence and, following Tertiary exhumation, forms outcrops over an area of >1000 km2. The carbonates have a gentle, <5⁰, dip to the NE and are affected by few regional, low displacement faults or folds. Despite their simple tectonic history, carbonates display ubiquitous open fractures, sub-vertical veins, and sub-vertical as well as sub-horizontal stylolites. Combining structural analysis, drone imaging, isotope studies and mathematical modelling, we reconstruct the fracturing history of the Jandaıra Formation during and following subsidence and analyse the impact fractures had on coeval fluid flow. We find that Jandaıra carbonates, fully cemented after early diagenesis, experienced negligible deformation during the first few hundreds of meters of subsidence but were pervasively fractured when they reached depths >400–500 m. Deformation was accommodated by a dense network of sub-vertical mode I and hybrid fractures associated with sub-vertical stylolites developed in a stress field characterised by a sub-horizontal r1 and sub-vertical r2. The development of a network of hybrid fractures, rarely reported in the literature, activated the circulation of waters charged in the mountainous region, flowing along the porous Acu sandstone underlying the Jandaıra carbonates and rising to the surface through the fractured carbonates. With persisting subsidence, carbonates reached depths of 800–900 m entering a depth interval characterised by a sub-vertical r1. At this stage, sub-horizontal stylolites developed liberating calcite which sealed the sub-vertical open fractures transforming them in veins and preventing further flow. During Tertiary exhumation, several of the pre-existing veins and stylolites opened and became longer, and new fractures were created typically with the same directions of the older features. The simplicity of our model suggests that most rocks in passive margin settings might have followed a similar evolution and thus display similar structures.

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