Implications of heterogeneous fracture distribution on reservoir quality; an analogue from the Torridon Group sandstone, Moine Thrust Belt, NW Scotland

Hannah Watkins* (Corresponding Author), David Healy* (Corresponding Author), Clare E. Bond* (Corresponding Author), Robert W.H. Butler* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding fracture network variation is fundamental in characterising fractured reservoirs. Simple relationships between fractures, stress and strain are commonly assumed in fold-thrust structures, inferring relatively homogeneous fracture patterns. In reality fractures are more complex, commonly appearing as heterogeneous networks at outcrop. We use the Achnashellach Culmination (NW Scotland) as an outcrop analogue to a folded tight sandstone reservoir in a thrust belt. We present fracture data is collected from four fold-thrust structures to determine how fracture connectivity, orientation, permeability anisotropy and fill vary at different structural positions. We use a 3D model of the field area, constructed using field observations and bedding data, and geomechanically restored using Move software, to determine how factors such as fold curvature and strain influence fracture variation.Fracture patterns in the Torridon Group are consistent and predictable in high strain forelimbs, however in low strain backlimbs fracture patterns are inconsistent. Heterogeneities in fracture connectivity and orientation in low strain regions do not correspond to fluctuations in strain or fold curvature. We infer that where strain is low, other factors such as lithology have a greater control on fracture formation. Despite unpredictable fracture attributes in low strain regions, fractured reservoir quality would be highest here because fractures in high strain forelimbs are infilled with quartz. Heterogeneities in fracture attribute data on fold backlimbs mean that fractured reservoir quality and reservoir potential is difficult to predict.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-197
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Early online date3 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

This research was funded by a NERC CASE studentship (NERC code NE/I018166/1) in partnership with Midland Valley. Midland Valley's Move software was used for cross section construction and strain modelling. 3D Field software is acknowledged for contour map creation. Mark Cooper is thanked for constructive comments. Steven Laubach and Bill Dunne are thanked overseeing the editorial process and Magdalena Ellis Curry, Bertrand Gauthier and Arthur Lavenu are thanked for constructive reviews.


  • Fold-thrust belt
  • Fracture
  • Fractured reservoir
  • Outcrop analogue
  • Reservoir quality
  • Tight sand


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