Colorado Plateau: Deformation of sandstones

My study of deformation structures on the Colorado Plateau is mainly concerned with faults and deformation bands, with applications to hydrocarbon reservoir geology

What's so attractive about the Colorado Plateau?

In addition to the genuine beauty of the nature in this area, it is the exceptional degree of exposure and the many deformation structures in porous sandstones makes this area a wonderland to many geologists. Here we can see faults at a wide range of scales, in a variety of sedimentary lithologies.

Fault details and damage zones

Seismic interpretors consider faults as lines on seismic sections. In Utah we can see superb examples of faults similar to those imaged on seismic lines. In addition, we can study the details of the fault zones, and describe the damage zone as well as the fault core.

Deformation bands

A particularly facinating class of small-scale structure commonly developed in porous sandstones are known as deformation bands. These are particularly well developed and exposed in sandstones on the Colorado Plateau, as described in the literature by Atolla Aydin. They restrict fluid flow and are of great interest to the oil industry as they occur in many sandstone petroleum reservoirs.

An important part of the Colorado Plateau Project has been to examine deformation bands with respect to length vs. displacement, and the development of deformation bands and their processes in different lithologies.

Relay structures

The Colorado Plateau contains awsome examples of vertical as well as lateral fault overlaps and relay structures. The most spectacular lateral example is located in the Devils Lane of the Graben Area, Canyonland National Park. Just like deformation bands (albeit at a larger scale), fault overlaps and relays may cause unexpected communication situations in a petroleum reservoir setting.

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