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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 97, No. 12 (December 2013), P. 22072232.

Copyright copy2013. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Tectonic versus diagenetic origin of fractures in a naturally fractured carbonate reservoir analog (Nerthe anticline, southeastern France)

Arthur P. C. Lavenu,1 Juliette Lamarche,2 Arnaud Gallois,3 Bertrand D. M. Gauthier4

1Aix-Marseille University, Centre Europeen de Recherche et d'Enseignement des Geosciences de l'Environnement (CEREGE) UM 34, 3, place Victor Hugo (case 67), 13331 Marseille Cedex 3, France; [email protected]
2Aix-Marseille University, CEREGE UM 34, 3, place Victor Hugo (case 67), 13331 Marseille Cedex 3, France; [email protected]
3Royal Holloway University of London, Queens Building, Department of Earth Sciences, Egham Hill, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, United Kingdom; [email protected]
4Total EP, Tour Coupole, 2 place Jean Millier, la Defense 6, 92078 Paris-La Defense Cedex, France; [email protected]


Field analogs allow a better characterization of fracture networks to constrain naturally fractured reservoir models. In analogs, the origin, nature, geometry, and other attributes of fracture networks can be determined and can be related to the reservoir through the geodynamic history. In this article, we aim to determine the sedimentary and diagenetic controls on fracture patterns and the genetic correlation of fracture and diagenesis with tectonic and burial history. We targeted two outcrops of Barremian carbonates located on both limbs of the Nerthe anticline (southeastern France). We analyzed fracture patterns and rock facies as well as the tectonic, diagenetic, and burial history of both sites. Fracture patterns are determined from geometric, kinematic, and diagenetic criteria based on field and lab measurements. Fracture sequences are defined based on crosscutting and abutting relationships and compared with geodynamic history and subsidence curves. This analysis shows that fractures are organized in two close-to-perpendicular joint sets (i.e., mode I). Fracture average spacing is 50 cm (20 in.). Fracture size neither depends on fracture orientation nor is controlled by bed thickness. Neither mechanical stratigraphy nor fracture stratigraphy is observed at outcrop scale. Comparing fracture sequences and subsidence curves shows that fractures existed prior to folding and formed during early burial. Consequently, the Nerthe fold induced by the Pyrenean compression did not result in any new fracture initiation on the limbs of this fold. We assume that the studied Urgonian carbonates underwent early diagenesis, which conferred early brittle properties to the host rock.

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