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This study was undertaken to investigate (1) the different
situations of fault entrapment of hydrocarbons in Tertiary sediments of the Gulf Coast salt basin, and (2) the role of juxtaposed sediments in a sandstone-shale sequence in creating sealing and nonsealing faults.
Fault-controlled accumulations in the hydropressured Tertiary section were studied in 10 Gulf Coast fields located on low relief structures. Investigations were limited to traps associated with faults which restrict vertical migration of hydrocarbons, that is, where an accumulation is in contact with the fault. The relations observed among fault, lithology, and accumulation are (1) fault sealing, with hydrocarbon-bearing sandstone in lateral juxtaposition with shale; (2) fault nonsealing to lateral migration, with parts of the same sandstone body juxtaposed within the hydrocarbon column; (3) fault nonsealing to lateral migration, with sandstone bodies of different ages juxtaposed within the hydrocarbon column; and (4) fault sealing, with sandstone bodies of different ages juxtaposed w thin the hydrocarbon column. In some places these four relations are present at different levels along the same fault.
In the examples studied, faults nonsealing to lateral migration were observed only where parts of the same sandstone body are juxtaposed across a fault. With sandstone bodies of different ages juxtaposed, some faults are sealing and others are nonsealing to lateral migration, but sealing faults are the most common. The fault seal apparently results from the presence of boundary fault-zone material emplaced along the fault by mechanical or chemical processes related directly or indirectly to faulting.
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