Fault system impact on paleokarst distribution in the Ordovician Yingshan Formation in the central Tarim basin, northwest China


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Marine and Petroleum Geology

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The paleokarst-unconformity at the top of the Ordovician Yingshan Formation in the central Tarim basin was exposed to air for at least 10 Ma, providing favorable conditions for the later formation of high-quality reservoirs. During the karstification process, the fault system plays an important role in controlling the development of paleokarst. This study characterized the fault system through the paleokarst features on the northern slope of the Tazhong High and examined in detail the impacts of the fault system on paleokarst distribution. Formation Micro-Imager logs and seismic curvature change rate were used for characterizing the fault system in different scales. The results revealed three sets of faults in this region. Cross-cutting relationships, unconformities, and relation between faults and karstification indicate Mid-to-Late Ordovician thrust faults, Silurian-Devonian strike-slip faults, and Permian tension faults. “Bright spots” in seismic records calibrated by Formation Micro-Imager logs were used for indicating paleokarst features and different depth distributions, respectively. Furthermore, the study employed spectral decomposition technique to characterize the morphology of paleocave complexes in detail. The results show the Mid-Late Ordovician thrust faults heavily impacted the distribution of paleokarst mainly distributed along master and secondary thrust faults in shallow areas, as well as along master basement-involved thrust faults in deep strata, and along the most pronounced area of paleokarst, Tazhong No. 10 fault zone bounded by back thrusts. The data provides new forecasting information for deep hydrocarbon exploration in paleokarst-related reservoirs of the Yingshan Formation.

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