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Open Access

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Master of Science (M.S.)

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Fractures, Joints, Carbonates, Dammam, Dome, Arabia


The exposed Tertiary carbonates of the Dammam Dome present an opportunity to study fractures in outcrops within the oil-producing region of Eastern Saudi Arabia. The study focuses on: 1) the characterization of fractures, 2) interpretation of their fracturing mechanism, and 3) the implications for the deep carbonate reservoirs of the Dammam Dome. The characterization of the outcrop fractures is integrated with structural analysis of the near-surface horizons mapped from reflection seismic and well data. Fractures are observed within all exposed carbonate units, but predominantly within the widely exposed Middle Rus unit. The fractures are opening-mode, bed-bound joints that form orthogonal sets (NW-SE and NE-SW trending joints). The trends of through-going, primary NW-SE trending joints do not correlate with the trends of remote regional stress associated with compression of Zagros uplift, suggesting they did not develop due to that orogenic event. The primary joints also seem to have developed independently of the observed karst features and interpreted near-surface faults. The analysis of joint pattern and their spacings generally seem to reflect the fold growth of the strata, position on fold and mechanical stratigraphy. The study results provide a first-order conceptual fracture model for the subsurface reservoirs to guide future development.


First Advisor

Michele L. Cooke