Faults and Fluid Flow 

Faults can function as high permeability pathways that enhance subsurface fluid flow or as low permeability barriers that impede subsurface fluid flow, and as a consequence can exert a strong influence on flow and transport processes in faulted aquifers, petroleum reservoirs, and host rocks.

The Faults and Fluids Group began at New Mexico Tech in the 1990’s, but now includes faculty and students at the University of Wisconsin and University of Massachusetts as well. By way of informal collaboration, we bring together expertise in structural geology, sedimentology, geomechanics, geochemistry, diagenesis, petrology, hydrology, and mathematical modeling to address the interrelationship between faults and fluid flow.

Our work is concentrated in several areas:

 


Former New Mexico Tech graduate student Mic Heynekamp mapped the distribution of calcite cement zones, elongated concretions, and deformational styles along the exhumed Sand Hill fault, which cuts poorly consolidated clastic sediments along the western margin of the Albuquerque Basin. The elongated concretions, which range from nearly vertical in the fault zone to horizontal in adjacent paleo aquifer units, are inferred to represent paleo groundwater flow directions through the fault zone
(see P.S. Mozley and L.B. Goodwin, 1995, Geology 23, 539-542).

 

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