Fracture network of the Ferron Sandstone Member of the Mancos Shale, east-central Utah, USA

International Journal of Coal Geology

DOI: 10.1016/S0166-5162(03)00080-6



The fracture network at the outcrop of the Ferron Sandstone Member of the Mancos Shale was studied to gain an understanding of the tectonic history of the region and to contribute data to studies of gas and water transmissivity related to the occurrence and production of coal-bed methane. About 1900 fracture readings were made at 40 coal outcrops and 62 sandstone outcrops in the area from Willow Springs Wash in the south to Farnham dome in the north of the study area in east-central Utah.Two sets of regional, vertical to nearly vertical, systematic face cleats were identified in Ferron coals. A northwest-striking set trends at a mean azimuth of 321??, and a northeast-striking set has a mean azimuth of 55??. Cleats were observed in all coal outcrops examined and are closely spaced and commonly coated with thin films of iron oxide.Two sets of regional, systematic joint sets in sandstone were also identified and have mean azimuths of 321?? and 34??. The joints of each set are planar, long, and extend vertically to nearly vertically through multiple beds; the northeast-striking set is more prevalent than the northwest-striking set. In some places, joints of the northeast-striking set occur in closely spaced clusters, or joint zones, flanked by unjointed rock. Both sets are mineralized with iron oxide and calcite, and the northwest-striking set is commonly tightly cemented, which allowed the northeast-striking set to propagate across it. All cleats and joints of these sets are interpreted as opening-mode (mode I) fractures. Abutting relations indicate that the northwest-striking cleats and joints formed first and were later overprinted by the northeast-striking cleats and joints. Burial curves constructed for the Ferron indicate rapid initial burial after deposition. The Ferron reached a depth of 3000 ft (1000 m) within 5.2 million years (m.y.), and this is considered a minimum depth and time for development of cleats and joints. The Sevier orogeny produced southeast-directed compressional stress at this time and is thought to be the likely mechanism for the northwest-striking systematic cleats and joints. The onset of the Laramide orogeny occurred at about 75 Ma, within 13.7 m.y. of burial, and is thought to be the probable mechanism for development of the northeast-striking systematic cleats and joints. Uplift of the Ferron in the late Tertiary contributed to development of butt cleats and secondary cross-joints and probably enhanced previously formed fracture sets. Using a study of the younger Blackhawk Formation as an analogy, the fracture pattern of the Ferron in the subsurface is probably similar to that at the surface, at least as far west as the Paradise fault and Joe's Valley graben. Farther to the west, on the Wasatch Plateau, the orientations of Ferron fractures may diverge from those measured at the outcrop. ?? 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Fracture network of the Ferron Sandstone Member of the Mancos Shale, east-central Utah, USA
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International Journal of Coal Geology
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