The characterization of geomorphic features such as fault plane geometries and slickensides can reveal intricacies of fault displacement as well as the forces that formed the fault. Fault plane geomorphic features such as grooves, ridges, and steps, which are normally observed in outcrops, are apparently scale independent and can be extracted by detailed fault interpretation on 3D Seismic data. Strain not only affects the fault plane, but also extends into the rock volume (Matonti et al., 2012) and can be inferred in different ways through direct observation of features in the rock (Van der Pluijm and Marchak, 2004). This study proposes that strain can also be inferred by observation of features within the fault plane geomorphology and that given the proper conditions, these geomorphic features can be interpreted within seismic data.


A fault is a fracture on which slip develops primarily by brittle deformation processes. Faults control the distribution of economic resources by controlling the permeability of rocks and sediments, properties which, in turn, control fluid migration (Van der Pluijm and Marshak, 2004). Faults surfaces play important roles in the petroleum system, functioning as hydrocarbon migration pathways or as structural seals (Metwalli and Pigott, 2005). Very few comprehensive structural studies have been conducted utilizing advanced seismic attribute analysis combined with fault plane geomorphology. Of these studies, even less have been made available to the general public. Fault characterization is a crucial issue in reservoir exploitation, because faults can behave either as hydraulic seal or as conduit.

This research is focused on data from a producing Middle Eastern oil field. The Middle East accounts for an estimated 47.9% of the world’s proven oil reserves (BP, 2014). Many of the world’s giant and super-giant fields have been discovered in Middle Eastern countries. There are 47 supergiant fields (proven and probable recoverable reserves > 5,000 MMboe) and 194 giant fields (500-5,000 MMboe proven and probable reserves) that have been discovered within the Middle Eastern counties that line the Eastern Tethyan Margin (Marlow et al., 2014). Due to confidentiality agreements, disclosure of the exact field or location is restricted.

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