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AAPG Bulletin


Lithologic and Structural Controls on Natural Fracture Distribution and Behavior Within the Lisburne Group, Northeastern Brooks Range and North Slope Subsurface, Alaska1

Catherine L. Hanks, John Lorenz, Lawrence Teufel, and Andrea P. Krumhardt2


The Carboniferous Lisburne Group of northern Alaska has been deformed into a variety of map-scale structures in both compressional and extensional structural settings, thus providing a series of natural experiments for observing the formation, distribution, and behavior of fractures in this thick carbonate unit. Two fracture sets dominate the Lisburne Group carbonates of the North Slope subsurface and the nearby northeastern Brooks Range fold and thrust belt. North-northwest-striking regional extension fractures probably formed in front of the northeastern Brooks Range fold and thrust belt. In the North Slope subsurface, this fracture set overprints east-northeast-striking fractures related to earlier extensional deformation; in 
contrast, in the fold and thrust belt, the north-northwest-striking fracture set is overprinted by younger east-northeast-striking fractures related to subsequent contractional deformation.

Lithology is the primary control on the fracture density of both sets. In mildly deformed Lisburne

©Copyright 1997. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

1Manuscript received February 20, 1996; revised manuscript received November 25, 1996; final acceptance June 5, 1997.

2Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775.

3Sandia National Laboratories, MS 0705, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87185.

4Department of Petroleum & Natural Gas Engineering, New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, Socorro, New Mexico 87801, and Sandla National Laboratories, MS 0705, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87185.

This study was supported by a Department of Energy subcontract administered by Sandia National Laboratories. Additional support was provided by ARCO Alaska, BP Alaska, Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, and Japan National Oil Company. We would like to thank ARCO Alaska and BP Alaska for giving us permission to view selected Lisburne Group cores, W. Wallace for helpful discussions on deformational styles of detachment folds, A. J. Mansure for help in interpreting the interference tests, and W. Wallace, K. Biddle, W. Belfield, N. Hurley, and J. Kelley for helpful reviews of the manuscript.

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