Appraisal of fracture sampling methods and a new workflow to characterise heterogeneous fracturing at outcrop

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Characterising fractures at outcrop for use as analogues to fractured reservoirs can use several methods. Four important fracture data collection methods are linear scanline sampling, areal sampling, window sampling and circular scanline sampling. In regions of homogeneous fracture networks these methods are adequate to characterise fracture patterns for use as outcrop analogues, however where fractures are heterogeneous, it is more difficult to characterise fracture networks and a different approach is needed. We develop a work
flow for fracture data collection in a region of heterogeneous fractures in a fold and thrust belt, which we believe has applicability to a wide variety of fracture networks in different tectonic settings. We use an augmented circular scanline method, along with areal sampling to collect a range of fracture attribute data, including orientation, length, aperture, spatial distribution and intensity. This
augmented circular scanline method more than halves the time taken for data collection, provides accurate, unbiased data that is representative of local fracture network attributes and involves data collection of a wider range of fracture attributes than other sampling techniques alone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-82
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Early online date10 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Open Access funded by Natural Environment Research Council
Under a Creative Commons license

The research presented here is part of a NERC CASE studentship (NERC code NE/I018166/1), in partnership with Midland Valley Exploration. The authors would like to thank Midland Valley Exploration for the use of their Move software ( for field mapping, cross section construction, and fracture orientation data plotting. Bill Dunne, John Hooker, and an anonymous reviewer are also thanked for constructive comments.


  • heterogeneous fractures
  • fracture sampling
  • fractured reservoir
  • outcrop analogue


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