Influence of structural position on fracture networks in the Torridon Group, Achnashellach fold and thrust belt, NW Scotland

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In fold-and-thrust belts rocks undergo deformation as fold geometries evolve. Deformation may be accommodated by brittle fracturing, which can vary depending on structural position. We use 2D forward modelling and 3D restorations to determine strain distributions throughout folds of the Achnashellach Culmination, Moine Thrust Belt, NW Scotland. Fracture data is taken from the Torridon Group; a thick, coarse grained fluviatile sandstone deposited during the Proterozoic. Modelling infers a correlation between strain and simple curvature; we use simple curvature to infer how structural position and strain control fracture attribute variations in a fold and thrust belt.

In high curvature regions, such as forelimbs, fracture intensities are high and fractures are short and oriented parallel to fold hinges. In low curvature regions fractures have variable intensities and are longer. Fracture orientations in these regions are scattered and vary over short distances. These variations do not relate to strain; data suggests lithology may influence fracturing. The strain history of fold structures also influences fracturing; structures with longer deformation histories exhibit consistent fracture attributes due to moderate-high strain during folding, despite present day low curvature. This is in contrast to younger folds with similar curvatures but shorter deformation histories. We suggest in high strain regions fracturing is influenced by structural controls, whereas in low strain regions lithology becomes more important in influencing fracturing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-80
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Early online date10 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Bibliographical note

This research is funded by a NERC CASE studentship (NERC code NE/I018166/1) in partnership with Midland Valley. The authors thank Midland Valley for use of FieldMove Clino software for fracture data collection, and Move software for cross section construction, and strain modelling. 3D Field software is acknowledged for contour map creation. We also thank Toru Takeshita for overseeing the editorial process, and Catherine Hanks and Ole Petter Wennberg for constructive reviews.


  • fracture
  • structural position
  • tight sand
  • fold and thrust belt


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