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Impacts of data sampling on the interpretation of normal fault propagation and segment linkage

Tao, Ze and Alves, Tiago M. ORCID: 2019. Impacts of data sampling on the interpretation of normal fault propagation and segment linkage. Tectonophysics 762 , pp. 79-96. 10.1016/j.tecto.2019.03.013

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Throw-distance (T-D) and throw-depth (T-Z) plots are widely used by researchers and industry to examine the growth of normal faults. This study uses high-quality three-dimensional (3D) seismic and outcrop information to review the effect of data sampling on the interpretation of normal fault growth. The results show that the accuracy of T-D and T-Z data, and of resulting fault slip tendency and leakage factor analyses, are dependent on the sampling strategy followed by interpreters and field geologists, i.e. on a Sampling Interval/Fault Length Ratio (δ) for discrete structures. In particular, this work demonstrates that significant geometric changes in T-D plots occur when a Module Error (εi) for the ratio δ is larger than 6%–9% for faults of all scales and growth histories. This implies that a minimum number of measurements should be gathered on discrete faults to produce accurate T-D and T-Z plots, and that the number of measurements is dependent on fault length. With no prior knowledge of fault segmentation, a δ value of 0.05 should be applied when interpreting faults to fulfil the pre-requisite of a ɛi < 6–9%. In all faults analysed, slip tendency and leakage factors were systematically misrepresented with increasing δ values. To disregard the limits proposed in this work results in: 1) a systematic underrepresentation of the isolated fault growth model, 2) a systematic misrepresentation of fault geometries and related damage zones, 3) the collation of erroneous fault scaling relationships, and 4) ultimately, unreliable interpretations of fault sealing properties. Hence, this work presents a new tool for interpreters and structural geologists to understand the sampling strategies necessary to obtain accurate fault throw and displacement data at different scales of analysis.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0040-1951
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 May 2019
Date of Acceptance: 16 March 2019
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 13:43

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