Are polygonal faults the keystone for better understanding the timing of fluid migration in sedimentary basins?
Laboratoire Géosciences Montpellier (GM), CNRS UMR 5243, Place Eugène Bataillon, 34000 Montpellier, France
Published online: 30 June 2017
The initial sediment lithification starts with complex interactions involving minerals, surface water, decomposing organic matter and living organisms. This is the eogenesis domain (0 to 2 km below the seafloor) in which the sediments are subject to physical, chemical and mechanical transformations defining the early fabric of rocks. This interval is intensively prospected for its energy/mining resources (hydrocarbons, metal deposits, geothermal energy). In most basins worldwide it is composed of very fine-grained sediments and it is supposed to play the role of a seal for fluids migration. However, it is affected by polygonal faulting due to a volume loss during burial by contraction of clay sediments with a high smectite content. This process is of high interest for fractured reservoirs and/or cover integrity but it is not well constrained giving an uncertainty as this interval can either promote the migration of deeper fluids and the mineralized fluids intensifies diagenesis in the fracture planes, rendering this interval all the more impermeable. The next challenge will be to define where, when and how does this polygonal fault interval occur and this can only be done by understanding the behavior of clay grains and fluids during early burial.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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