Overburden deformation induced by dyke-fed conical sandstone intrusions: insights from numerical experiments

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Qingfeng Meng, David Hodgetts


Conical sandstone intrusions, as a distinct type of hydrocarbon reservoirs and carbon sequestration sites, remain poorly understood regarding their emplacement mechanics. Here, we report a numerical modelling study of conical sandstone intrusions using the two-dimensional discrete element method. We built simplified numerical models that contain bonded elastic particles with predefined mechanical properties in an open box as the overburden, and a thin tube filled with unbonded particles as the feeder dyke that is connected to the upper box. The dynamic behavior of the assembly was enabled by displacing of the driving wall that defines the lower boundary of the dyke. The results show that the model composed of soft materials produced a pair of conical, opening-mode fractures in the host sediments as the result of tensile stress concentrations in the fracture tip zones. The overburden deformation was largely localised within the sediments adjacent to the sandbody, without formation of a forced fold and significant uplift of the surface. Differently, the model composed of stiffer materials produced conical fractures that have closed lower segments and opening upper segments with a reverse sense of shear. The intrusion also caused a forced fold in the overburden, with a vertical opening-mode fracture generated in the fold hinge. The modelling results demonstrate that dyke-fed sand intrusions can significantly distort the local stress field, and the overburden can be subjected to fracturing and/or folding due to differential compaction during gradual inflation of the intrusive sandbody. Moreover, deformation patterns of the overburden in response to sandstone intrusion largely depend on mechanical properties of the host sediments.




Earth Sciences, Geology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Fracture, Forced fold, sandstone intrusion, conical, differential compaction


Published: 2019-05-10 13:46


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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