D.C.P. Peacock*+ and A. Mann*

* Fugro Robertson, Llandudno, North Wales LL30 1SA.

+ Corresponding author, email dcp@robresint.co.uk

The style, geometry and distribution of fractures within reservoir rocks can be controlled by numerous factors, including: rock characteristics and diagenesis (lithology, sedimentary structures, bed thickness, mechanical stratigraphy, the mechanics of bedding planes); structural geology (tectonic setting, palaeostresses, subsidence and uplift history, proximity to faults, position in a fold, timing of structural events, mineralisation, the angle between bedding and fractures); and present-day factors, such as orientations of in situ stresses, fluid pressure, perturbation of in situ stresses and depth. The relative timing of events plays a crucial role in determining the geometry and distribution of fractures. For example, open fractures are commonly clustered around faults if the open fractures and faults formed at the same time, but clustering does not tend to occur if the open fractures pre-date or post-date the faults. Understanding these factors requires traditional geological skills, including the analysis of one-dimensional (line-sampling) data from core, borehole images and exposed analogues.

This paper reviews the factors that control fractures within reservoir rocks and discusses methods to assess those controls. Examples are presented from Mesozoic limestones in southern England. It is shown that traditional geological skills are of vital importance in determining the rock characteristics, structural and present-day factors that control fractures.

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