Our aim is to quantify the role of intermediate length scale pre-existing faults and fractures on the critical loading of first order faults and on the potential for enhancement of fracture network.

The arrangement of smaller scale natural fractures relative to larger-scale faults is subject of our combined outcrop and numerical modelling study. In this study we perform finite element geomechanical simulation to quantify mechanical response in terms of loading and failure of complex network of pre-existing fault and fracture planes. The first and intermediate order faults and fractures are included in the mechanical models by means of Discrete Surface Networks. The structural configuration of the Dutch SE North Sea P6 block inspired the definition of the first order faults of our geologic input model for mechanical simulations. The analyses of first and smaller order fault patterns of the North Sea subsurface case were combined with the detailed fracture observations from our outcrop analogue. Differently from previous studies, this work addresses the length scales between larger scale tectonic models that account mainly for the horst-bounding faults and the detailed studies that address stresses at and around boreholes.


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