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Deformation bands and their impact on fluid flow in sandstone reservoirs: the role of natural thickness variations


Corresponding author: A. Rotevatn, Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, Allégaten 41, 5007 Bergen, Norway. E-mail: Tel: +47 48109959. Fax: +47 55583660.


Cataclastic deformation bands, which are common in sandstone reservoirs and which may negatively affect fluid flow, are generally associated with notable thickness variations. It has been suggested previously that such thickness variations represent an important control on how deformation bands affect fluid flow. The effects of such thickness variations are tested in this study though statistical analysis and fluid flow simulation of an array of cataclastic deformation bands in Cretaceous sandstones in in the Bassin de Sud-Est in Provence, France. Spatial outcrop data are statistically analyzed for incorporation in flow simulation models, and numerical simulations are used to investigate the effects of notable thickness variations on how the deformation bands influence effective permeability and flow dynamics. A suite of simulations is performed using a combination of fine-scale and coarse-scale grids, revealing that the effective permeability of the simulated reservoir is reduced by a factor of 15–25. More interestingly, the simulations further demonstrated that, as compared to the overall effect of the deformation band array on fluid flow, thickness variations along the bands proved to have negligible effects only. Thus, our simulations indicate that the configuration and connectivity of the deformation bands, together with the permeability contrast between the bands and the host rock and the mean band thickness, are the most important controls on the effective permeability. Our findings represent new insight into the influence of deformation bands on fluid flow in subsurface aquifers and reservoirs, indicating that thickness variations of individual deformation bands are of less significance than previously thought.

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