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Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

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Journal of Structural Geology


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jsg

Tectonic control on vein attributes and deformation intensity in fault T


damage zones affecting Natih platform carbonates, Jabal Qusaybah, North
Oman
F. Balsamoa,∗, L. Clemenzia, F. Stortia, J. Solumb, C. Tabernerb
a
NEXT - Natural and Experimental Tectonics Research Group, Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, 43124,
Parma, Italy
b
Carbonate Research Team, Shell Global Solutions International BV, Rijswijk, the Netherlands

ARTICLE INFO ABSTRACT

Keywords: Understanding the factors that control fracture patterns in fault damage zones is fundamental to predicting fault
Fault damage zone zone permeability in the subsurface. In this contribution, we present outcrop data on vein attributes collected from
Deformation intensity 26 fault zones (10 strike-slip and 16 normal dip-slip) that cut Cretaceous Natih Formation platform carbonates
Vein aperture exposed in the Jabal Qusaybah anticline, North Oman. Faulting occurred during the growth of the salt-cored
Vein scaling
anticline and progressed initially from dominant strike-slip faults (burial depth ∼3–4 km) to late normal dip-slip
Natih formation
North Oman
faults (burial depth < 1–2 km). The displacements accommodated by both kinematic fault types range similarly
from 0.1 to 100 m, and damage-zone width increases with displacement at the same rate for both types. Vein
aperture (A), height (H), and spacing (S) were measured in vertical cross-sections (n = 10839 data) along fault-
perpendicular, linear scanlines across fault damage zones. Data analyses indicate that, as the master slip surface is
approached in each fault zone: (1) vein aperture and height generally increase; (2) vein spacing systematically
decreases; and (3) deformation intensity, calculated as vein H/S ratio, increases. However, median H/S values
calculated in each damage zone do not show a robust correlation with fault displacement. When analyzed col-
lectively across-fault distributions, H/S ratios indicate that deformation intensity (i) in normal dip-slip fault da-
mage zones is greater than in strike-slip fault damage zones; (ii) in strike-slip fault damage zones is symmetrical
with respect to the master slip surface; and (iii) is locally asymmetrically distributed with greater deformation
intensity in footwall blocks for normal dip-slip faults. Greater deformation in normal dip-slip fault zones is ex-
pressed by greater vein height, rather than smaller vein spacing. The main conclusion is that deformation intensity
and vein attributes in fault damage zones are primarily controlled by burial stress and fault kinematics, and less
importantly by rheological contrasts between layers, rather than local stress induced by fault displacement.

1. Introduction Geometrical and petrophysical properties of such structural domains


determine the potential for faults to act as barriers and/or conduits for
Faults in the brittle crust are zones of localized shear, typically fluid flow (e.g., Bense et al., 2013 and references therein).
composed of intensely deformed cataclastic fault cores surrounded by Field, theoretical, and experimental data indicate that deformation
fracture-dominated fault damage zones (Chester et al., 1993; Caine intensity and damage distribution in fault zones depends on the inter-
et al., 1996; Faulkner et al., 2010; Kim et al., 2004; Choi et al., 2016). action between the regional stress field and local factors, including (i)
The quantification of deformation intensity in fault core and damage lithology (Riley et al., 2010; Rossetti et al., 2011), (ii) the kinematically
zone domains is of primary importance to understanding fault growth induced stress field and local stress perturbation at fault tip regions
processes (e.g., Blenkinsop, 2008), as well as fault strength and earth- (McGrath and Davison, 1995; Cartwright and Mansfield, 1998; Ferrill
quake nucleation and propagation (Sibson, 1989, 1996; Delle Piane and Morris, 2001; Kim et al., 2003; Balsamo et al., 2008), (iii) burial
et al., 2017). It is also relevant to predicting fluid flow in fault zones in depth during deformation (Mandl, 2005; Riley et al., 2010), (iv) the
subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs, aquifers, CO2 storage and nuclear presence of syn-kinematic diagenetic fluids and evolving mechanical
waste disposal sites (Caine et al., 1996; Solum and Huisman, 2017). stratigraphy (Laubach et al., 2009; Narr and Suppe, 1991), (v) fault


Corresponding author.
E-mail address: fabrizio.balsamo@unipr.it (F. Balsamo).

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2019.02.009
Received 20 May 2018; Received in revised form 18 February 2019; Accepted 25 February 2019
Available online 28 February 2019
0191-8141/ © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

geometry and kinematics (Berg and Skar, 2005), (vi) strain rate and located at the southern deformation front of the Oman Mountains
preferential propagation direction of coseismic rupture (Mitchell et al., (Fig. 1). The stratigraphic succession in this area includes Precambrian
2011), (vii) fault restriction by stratigraphic (Wilkins and Gross, 2002; carbonates and siliciclastic rocks overlain by Paleozoic siliciclastic
Soliva et al., 2005) or tectonic (e.g. Balsamo et al., 2016) factors, (viii) rocks and Mesozoic to Cenozoic carbonates with interlayered silici-
fault slip magnitude (Shipton and Cowie, 2001; Shipton et al., 2006; clastic formations (Mount et al., 1998; Richard et al., 2014). The Cre-
Balsamo et al., 2010), and (ix) nucleation of secondary fault strands in taceous stratigraphic succession cropping out in the Jabal Qusaybah
fault damage zones (Savage and Brodsky, 2011). Among these many anticline includes the Cenomanian-Turonian members of the Natih
variables, fault displacement is expected to be one of the most im- Formation (stratigraphic column in Fig. 1A) (Homewood et al., 2008
portant factors, influencing fracture density in fault damage zones, as and references therein), one of the larger subsurface carbonate re-
indicated by the well-established fault length-width-displacement re- servoirs of North Oman (Al-Kindi and Richard, 2014; Richard et al.,
lationships (Schlische, 1995; Shipton et al., 2006; Torabi and Berg, 2014). Natih member A (Late Cenomanian-Early Turonian) consists
2011; Schultz et al., 2013). Despite the large number of available field- primarily of platform carbonates and is exposed along the entire anti-
based datasets in sedimentary rocks (Choi et al., 2016, and references cline. Member B (Middle-Late Cenomanian) consists of intrashelf ba-
therein), information about the relationships between fault displace- sinal, organic-rich carbonates and is well exposed in the N-trending
ment and deformation intensity in fault damage zones displacing creeks cutting the central sector of the anticline. Member C (Early
layered platform carbonates is still lacking. Cenomanian) is exposed only at the bottom of the eroded valleys in the
An important aspect for predicting subsurface fault permeability is central sector of the fold, and consists mainly of platform carbonates
the quantification of deformation intensity in both fault cores and da- characterized by a ∼3-5 m-thick layer of coarse-grained rudist debris
mage zones, which has been the subject of several studies over the past (e.g. Hanna and Smewing, 1996; Homewood et al., 2008), overlying a
decades, utilizing different techniques and scales of observation (Ben- ∼5 m-thick mudstone layer and ∼1 m-thick layered carbonates. The 3-
Zion and Sammis, 2003; Ortega et al., 2006; Mitchell et al., 2011; Storti 5 m-thick layer of coarse-grained rudist debris is generally more com-
et al., 2011; Smith et al., 2013; Tan et al., 2014; Santos et al., 2015; petent and resistant to erosion (Fig. 2). Another more competent or-
Panza et al., 2016; Rustichelli et al., 2016; Ogata et al., 2017). In ganic-rich layer called B3 (Homewood et al., 2008) occurs within Natih
layered carbonate rocks, quantification of fault-related deformation is member B, and provides a useful horizon for stratigraphic correlations
effectively performed by analyzing fracture spacing normalized by the and determination of fault displacement.
thickness of the corresponding mechanical layering. Different para- Structurally, the E-W trending Jabal Qusaybah anticline is char-
meters for this purpose include the Fracture Spacing Ratio FSR (Gross, acterized by a complex deformation pattern mainly including NE-
1993), Fracture spacing to layer thickness ratio S/Tf (Bai and Pollard, striking left-lateral strike-slip fault zones and fold-perpendicular, N-S
2000), the Fracture Spacing Index FSI (Narr and Suppe, 1991), the oriented normal dip-slip fault zones (Fig. 1A). N-striking and NW-
number of fractures per meter calculated along fault-perpendicular, striking right-lateral strike-slip faults are also present in the western
bed-parallel scanlines (Marrett, 1996; Ortega et al., 2006; Savage and part of the anticline. The normal faults are concentrated in the central
Brodsky, 2011), the H/S ratio (Tavani et al., 2008), and fracture density sector of the fold and are associated with axial bulging of the anticlinal
and intensity calculated for circular “windows” on sample surfaces crest (Storti et al., 2015). Normal fault zones abut, and are confined by,
(Mauldon et al., 2001; Watkins et al., 2015). An additional parameter major NE-trending left-lateral strike-slip fault zones (Balsamo et al.,
associated with fracture density is their aperture (A). Determining 2016) (Figs. 1A and 2). Geochemical signatures and microthermometric
aperture from open weathered fractures at the surface is very proble- data of fault-related minerals (i.e., calcite cement in veins and fracture
matic, but where vein fills are preserved, then data about total aperture meshes of dilation breccias) indicates that both fault types developed
and even incremental aperture growth may be measured (Ortega et al., during the growth of the anticline, with early-stage strike-slip fault
2006; Hooker et al., 2014). zones developed at 3–4 km burial depth, and late-stage normal dip-slip
At Jabal Qusaybah in north Oman (Fig. 1), superb exposures of both fault zones developed at a shallower burial depth of 1–2 km (Mozafari
strike-slip and normal dip-slip fault zones with a range of displacements et al., 2015; Balsamo et al., 2016).
provide the opportunity to study the effects of kinematics and displace-
ment on vein patterns in the adjacent damage zones that deformed these 3. Methods
Cretaceous platform carbonates. Furthermore, recent multidisciplinary
works in the study area showed that strike-slip and dip-slip normal fault 3.1. Porosity and pore size distribution
zones developed progressively during the growth and exhumation of the
Jabal Qusaybah anticline (Storti et al., 2015; Balsamo et al., 2016) thus To characterize the petrophysical properties of the host carbonate
providing overburden constrain to fault's development. rocks, we measured the porosity and pore size distribution of 20 re-
In this contribution, we present a new dataset of vein attributes presentative samples by mercury-intrusion porosimetry using a
collected from 10 strike-slip (mostly left-lateral) and 16 normal dip-slip PoreMaster 33 (Quantachrome Instruments). Four samples were ana-
fault zones with displacements between 0.1 and ∼100 m that devel- lyzed from the Natih A member, three from Natih B, and 13 from Natih
oped during progressive formation of the Jabal Qusaybah anticline. For C. Before measurement, all samples were dried at 40 °C for 24 h. Sample
comparison, vein attribute data were collected from 5 undeformed beds density was measured before porosity analyses by an Ultrapyc 1200e
in two sites far from fault zones, which did not record fault-driven vein gas pycnometer (Quantachrome instruments). Mercury-intrusion por-
development. Our findings show that, in this structural context, damage osity measurements were performed on ∼2 g of material, using the
zone width in both normal dip-slip and strike-slip fault zones has a following parameters: 1.0 × 3.0 cm, 0.5 cc sample cell, 0.5 to 33,000
positive correlation with fault displacement, but not deformation in- psi pressure range, 0.0064–950 μm pore size range, 140-degree mercury
tensity within fault damage zones. Moreover, normal fault zones, which contact angle, and 0.48 N/m (480 dyn/cm) mercury surface tension. In
developed at shallower burial depth during late-stage fold amplifica- mercury-intrusion porosimetry, the volume of mercury penetrating into
tion, show greater deformation intensity than strike-slip faults in their porous samples can be measured as a function of the applied hydraulic
damage zones. pressure. The obtained mercury intrusion and extrusion curves are
converted into pore size distributions using the Washburn equation, in
2. Geological and structural setting which the applied hydraulic pressure P is related to the cross-sectional
radius R of pore throats accessible by the pressured mercury, together
Jabal Qusaybah exposes an ∼8 km long and 3 km wide E-W- with two material-related thermodynamic parameters: mercury surface
trending anticline (hereafter referred as Jabal Qusaybah anticline) tension γ and its contact angle θ with the sample material (Washburn,

39
F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

(caption on next page)

40
F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 1. (A) Oblique view of the E-W trending Jabal Qusaybah anticline, with mapped major fault zones and sites of scanlines shown on topographic image from
Google Earth. The top right inset shows the location of the study area at the southern deformation front of the Oman Mountains (after Al-Kindi, 2006). The left inset
shows the stratigraphic column of the Natih A, B and C members of platform carbonates exposed in the anticline. (B) Lower-hemisphere, equal-area stereographic
projections for normal dip-slip faults showing orientations of main fault plane and contoured poles to veins in fault damage zone (c.i. = contouring interval). (C)
Lower-hemisphere, equal-area stereographic projections for strike-slip faults showing orientations of main fault plane and contoured poles to veins in fault damage
zone (c.i. = contouring interval).

Fig. 2. Panoramic view (A) and line-drawing (B) showing N-trending, normal dip-slip fault zones cross-cutting Natih A, B and C members, and abutting a NE-
trending, left-lateral strike-slip fault zone.

1921; Leon y Leon, 1998): 3.3. Vein data collection and analysis

2 cos Vein height (H), aperture (A) and spacing (S) were measured in the
R=
P field along 31 linear scanlines. 5 scanlines sampled the host rock to
quantify background deformation far from faults, so as to characterize
the pre-faulting vein pattern. 10 scanlines were placed across in strike-
3.2. Fault attitude, kinematics and displacement slip fault damage zones (9 left-lateral and 1 right-lateral), and 16
scanlines in dip-slip normal fault damage zones to characterize vein
Fault orientations and kinematics were sampled in detail in the development related to faulting (Fig. 1A and Tables 1 and 2). Back-
study area. Slip sense for fault zones and minor faults was determined ground deformation was quantified in two selected sites characterized
using classical kinematic criteria (Petit, 1987) such as mineral fibers by weak vein abundance located about 120 and 460 m far from major
and slickolites on fault surfaces, as well as the geometry of secondary faults. Fault-related scanlines were performed so as to not encounter
Riedel shear fractures, pressure solution cleavage and vein pattern in fault terminations and intersections with other faults (Fig. 1A) to fa-
fault damage zones with respect to the orientation of their host fault. cilitate data comparison and rule out possible bias in fracture attributes
Fault displacement for studied fault zone was constrained using slick- related to the occurrence of fault overlaps and tip areas (Choi et al.,
enline orientations together with throw of distinctive marker horizons. 2016). In each studied fault zone, scanlines were designed to quantify

41
Table 1
Summary table showing site names (scan line labels) for strike-slip and normal dip-slip fault zones (see Fig. 1), GPS position of studied faults, bedding, fault and vain attitudes, fault displacement, fault core and damage
zone width, and affected stratigraphy (Displ: fault displacement, p = pitch, FC: fault core, DZ: damage zone; biom: biomudstone, gr: grainstone (coarse grained rudist debris), -: no data available). (∗) Dataset partially
published in Balsamo et al. (2016).
F. Balsamo, et al.

(∗)
Kinematics Site name Coordinates Fault zone geometry Fault attributes Stratigraphy

(scan line Latitude Longitude Bedding Average fault Average vein Displ. FC width DZ length DZ width affected
label) attitude attitude attitude (m) (m) along scan line (m)
(m) formation

Strike-slip fault Fault 22.526861 57.069473 93,18 244, 74 p 173 226, 82 2.036 12 11.28 Natih B
zones 2.08a
Fault 22.526861 57.069473 93,18 244, 74 p 173 212, 85 3.036 10 8.39 Natih B
2.08b
Fault 2.12 22.525667 57.076084 113,16 242, 78 p164 210, 86 0.0894 0.0125 0.7 0.59 Natih B
Fault 2.15 22.545667 57.072612 322,36 238, 59 p19 229, 83 80 0.44 38 34.15 Natih A/C biom
Fault 2.17 22.542306 57.072778 194,12 216, 79 p32 28, 77 42.71 0.82 25 22.66 Natih B
Fault 2.22 22.52575 57.068362 83,14 221, 66 p 17 225, 83 8.15 0.05 9 8.61 Natih A
Fault 4.04 22.542277 57.060342 162,9 8, 80 p 174 205, 87 103.2 33.9 31.43 Natih A/B
Fault 22.546056 57.059695 358,17 243, 86 p18 191, 88 16.37 Natih A
4.07a
Fault 22.546056 57.059695 347,16 101, 83 p162 68, 84 20.31 Natih A
4.07b
Fault 4.62 22.545754 57.075649 271,24 220, 78 p 6 171, 83 55.5 0.787 13.84 9.26 Natih A
Normal dip-slip Fault 2.06 22.525528 57.070362 116, 13 208, 86 p 116 184, 86 5.1 0.362 7 6.39 Natih A
fault zones Fault 2.14 22.544425 57.070749 267, 10 7, 69 p121 5, 83 14.46 0.4516 22 21.99 Natih A/B
Fault 2.29 22.538722 57.077778 337, 11 192, 72 p83 192, 80 42 21.5 21.50 Natih C biom
Fault 3.13 22.539498 57.077161 – 193, 66 p82 12, 88 6.24 0.22 8.08 8.08 Natih A
Fault 22.53687 57.07813 – 214, 71 p 83 231, 84 27 Natih A

42
3.24a
Fault 22.53687 57.07813 – 214, 71 p 83 16, 83 27 0.51 Natih B
3.24b
Fault 3.25 22.53743 57.077434 – 19, 74 p94 209, 87 10 0.87 9.75 9.60 Natih A
Fault 3.28 22.537657 57.07687 316, 29 207, 74, p105 9, 88 26.23 3.93 12.53 11.92 Natih A
Fault 3.35 22.540119 57.078156 235, 14 228, 70 p93 17, 88 53 0.5 21.545 18.47 Natih C gr
Fault 3.61 22.535398 57.075892 – – – 24 13.47 0.00 Natih A
Fault 4.32 22.523726 57.078338 116, 28 193, 66 p82 20, 86 34 Natih A
Fault 4.43 22.534417 57.077925 – 176, 87 355, 88 60 46.35 46.34 Natih A/B
Fault 4.56 22.529801 57.072231 – 225, 72 p 80 225, 82 25.33 11.498 11.50 Natih C gr/B
Fault 4.57 22.52944 57.072144 – 52, 79 p 92 228, 81 25.42 14.29 14.26 Natih C gr/B
Fault 22.538005 57.073838 137, 13 39, 79 p 84 36, 88 61 0.349 20.888 20.86 Natih A/B
4.58a
Fault 22.538005 57.073838 206, 15 206, 72 p 95 – 7.39 Natih A
4.58b
Fault 22.538005 57.073838 186, 11 38, 73 p 77 – 2.1 Natih A
4.58c
Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57
F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Table 2
Summary table showing scan line labels for strike-slip and normal dip-slip fault zones (see Fig. 1 and Table 1), median H/S ratio values in fault blocks and in
background domains, bed thickness were scanlines are performed, and the % of veins > bed thickness. (FWDZ: footwall damage zone, HWDZ: hangingwall damage
zone).
Kinematics Site name Deformation intensity (H/S) Bed thickness Vein > bed thickness

Scan line Median H/S damage zone Median H/S BG Bed thickness % vein > strata
label
Block 1 or Block 2 or Block 1 or Block 2 or Block 1 or Block 2 or HWDZ Block 1 or Block 2 or
FWDZ HWDZ FWDZ HWDZ FWDZ (m) (m) FWDZ HWDZ

Strike-slip fault zones Fault 2.08a 7.81 4.7 1.88 1.01 0.52 0.52 29.8 14.7
Fault 2.08b 10.02 4.01 0.86 1.29 0.19 0.19 51.3 30.8
Fault 2.12 3.34 9.3 – 0.99 0.38 0.38 0 4.5
Fault 2.15 8.4 5.79 – 3.75 2.27 0.47 5.5 3.2
Fault 2.17 3.4 4.37 1.21 – 0.29 0.5 5.8 19.6
Fault 2.22 5.23 7.97 0.89 2.56 0.67 0.34 2.3 12.3
Fault 4.04 – 5.76 – 2.07 – 0.68 – 25.3
Fault 4.07a 8.91 7.84 – – 0.87 0.87 53.3 –
Fault 4.07b 9.25 8.05 – – 0.87 0.87 – –
Fault 4.62 5.28 – 0.52 – 0.65 – 10.4 –
Normal dip-slip fault Fault 2.06 12.95 6.02 2.85 3.13 0.57 0.53 7.4 0
zones Fault 2.14 4.43 8.56 1.07 2.71 0.31 0.68 22.4 16
Fault 2.29 15.49 – 2.17 – 3.57 – 9.25 –
Fault 3.13 10.56 8.98 – – 0.56 0.42 66.7 50
Fault 3.24a 10.71 – 3.44 – 0.57 8.7 –
Fault 3.24b 6.74 – 0.95 – 0.14 74.1 –
Fault 3.25 5.68 6.65 0.73 – 0.52 0.37 13.4 21.8
Fault 3.28 – 5 – 2 – 0.49 – 16.4
Fault 3.35 26.38 – 5.82 – 4.61 – 17.1 –
Fault 3.61 6.43 – 1.41 – 0.41 – 18.9 –
Fault 4.32 11.42 – 1.48 – 0.68 – 32.7 –
Fault 4.43 – 11.22 – 2.99 1.65 – 29.48
Fault 4.56 6.39 3.25 0.65 1.38 1.56 0.29 33.3 2.7
Fault 4.57 8.63 – 3.79 – 1.56 – 46.7 –
Fault 4.58a 5.79 7.12 2.11 2.74 0.57 0.26 22.1 65.4
Fault 4.58b 6.79 6.8 2.42 2.81 0.26 0.64 0 0
Fault 4.58c 5.57 5.45 3.66 0.98 0.64 0.64 – 0

variations in vein pattern and deformation intensity along transects bound, which is not the case for many veins analyzed in this study.
beginning in master slip surfaces, and extending through fault damage To analyze variations in across-fault deformation intensity, we
zones to background vein domains (i.e., host rock) (Fig. 3A, C). In each computed and plotted versus position along a scanline: (i) individual
fault zone, scanlines were oriented orthogonal to the strike of the vein H/S values, obtained for each vein by dividing the vein height
dominant vein set and parallel to one or more beds in both fault blocks against spacing between two adjacent veins; (ii) moving average curves
(Fig. 3B, D). Sampled veins in fault damage zones are assumed to be of vein H/S values (progressively averaging 5 data of individual H/S
developed contemporaneously with faulting. This assumption is sup- values), which smooth out local fluctuations in H/S ratios and highlight
ported by geometrical and kinematic relationships between master general trends in fault damage zones; and (iii) median H/S values,
faults and veins (Storti et al., 2015), as well as by petrographic and calculated averaging all individual H/S values for each fault zone and
geochemical features of syn-kinematic calcite fault infilling and veins fault block (i.e., hangingwall and footwall damage zone). Moving
(Mozafari et al., 2015; Balsamo et al., 2016). average curves were also useful to establish the boundaries of fault
The thicknesses of the investigated beds range from less than 5 cm damage zones (H/S values < ∼3) although some fluctuations were
(in Natih B) to ∼5 m (in Natih C). Due to stratigraphic separation observed in background domains due to local vein corridors.
across faults, scanlines in juxtaposed footwall and hangingwall damage Vein orientation, morphology, crosscutting relationships, and me-
zones were usually performed in different beds of the same Natih chanical-layer thickness were also recorded for each scanline. Detailed
member, or, for large displacement fault zones, in different Natih descriptions of vein textures, mineralogy, and geochemistry, as well as
members (see Fig. 3A, C). mineral infilling in fault breccias, are outside the purposes of this paper
Vein spacing (S), aperture (A) and height (H) were measured with a and are addressed in separate papers (Mozafari et al., 2015, 2017).
mm-resolution tape (Fig. 4A). A default aperture A = 0.5 mm was as-
signed to vein apertures lower than 1 mm to deal with uncertainty 4. Fault zone structure and kinematics
produced by the 3D variability of this parameter. In a few cases, vein H
exceeded the height of vertical exposures, resulting in a minor trun- Both normal dip-slip and strike-slip fault zones are characterized by
cation bias in the dataset (Zeeb et al., 2013). Deformation intensity in narrow cataclastic fault cores with well-polished master slip surfaces
each footwall and hangingwall fault damage zone was quantified via surrounded by well-developed damage zones. In all studied faults, da-
statistical analysis of vein H/S ratios (Tavani et al., 2008), which nor- mage zones are typically characterized by a dominant vein set oriented
malize vein density by removing the effect of mechanical layer thick- subparallel or oblique to the master fault surface (Fig. 1B and C, and
ness on vein spacing (Laubach et al., 2009; Narr and Suppe, 1991). In Table 1). Normal faults commonly show slightly oblique to pure dip-slip
this formulation, greater H/S ratios indicate greater deformation in- slickenlines on polished surfaces (Fig. 5A and B). They are organized in
tensity by (i) increasing vein height, (ii) decreasing vein spacing, or (iii) a conjugate system of faults with an average azimuth of N12°E and
a combination of both (Fig. 4B). In poorly layered carbonate platform average dips of 71° and 73° (Fig. 5E). Slickenline pitch ranges from 45°
strata, the H/S ratio is more appropriate than Fracture Spacing Ratio to 135° with a mean value of 86.4 ± 13.9°, indicating near pure dip-
because the latter is based on the assumption that fractures are strata- slip movements (Fig. 5F). Normal dip-slip fault zones are also

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 3. Outcrop-scale photographs of fault zones and vein patterns within damage zones. (A) Example of scanline orientations across a normal dip-slip fault zone with
61 m of displacement (1 m scale is indicated on the right). (B) Conceptual sketch showing, in map view, vein sampling strategy along linear scanline for a pure dip-
slip fault zone in which veins are parallel to the master fault surface (slickenline pitch = 90°). (C) Example of scanline orientations across a left-lateral strike-slip fault
zone with displacement of ∼80 m (circled donkey for scale is ∼1.6 m high at the wither). (D) Conceptual sketch showing, in map view, vein sampling strategy in a
left-lateral strike-slip fault zone in which veins are oblique to the master fault surface (forming an angle α).

Fig. 4. Vein data collection and analysis. (A) Example of vein attribute (height H, spacing S, aperture A) measured along a scanline in the hangingwall damage zone
of a normal fault zone with 21 m of displacement (pen for scale is 12 cm long). (B) Schematic draw showing vein H/S ratios in a single bed. H/S ratio increases due to
vein infilling and/or vein propagation. HWDZ = hangingwall damage zone, FC = fault core.

characterized by the absence of well-developed hangingwall synclines reactivations are documented along strike-slip faults by adjacent zones
or rollover structures, which indicates that the subsurface fault geo- of slickenlines with slightly different orientations within the same fault
metry is mostly planar. Strike-slip faults show near sub-horizontal core (Fig. 5D). Collectively, left-lateral strike-slip faults are sub-vertical
slickenlines on steeply dipping polished surfaces (Fig. 5C). Multiple with an average strike of N56°E (Fig. 5G). Slickenline pitch shows

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 5. Example geometries for fault kinematic indicators, all fault orientations and pitches for fault kinematic indicators. (A) Normal fault with well-developed dip-
slip slickenlines on master slip surface. (B) Detail of down-dip lineations on a master slip surface. (C) Strike-slip fault zone with sub-horizontal lineations on polished
master slip surface. (D) Detail showing slickolites indicating left-lateral strike-slip sense of slip. (E) Lower-hemisphere, equal-area stereographic projection showing
density contour of pole to normal faults (contouring interval C.i. = 2%.) and mean orientations of normal faults. (F) Fault slickenline pitch statistics indicating mean
dip-slip movement of extensional faults. (G) Lower-hemisphere, equal-area stereographic projection showing density contour of pole to left-lateral strike-slip faults
(contouring interval C.i. = 2%.) and mean orientation of left-lateral strike-slip fault. (H) Fault-slickenline pitch statistics showing mostly strike-slip movements along
NE-trending faults.

values between 0 and 40° and between 140 and 180°, indicating studied fault damage zones. Collectively, veins in the normal dip-slip
transtensional to pure strike-slip movements (Fig. 5H). fault damage zones have an average attitude of N8°E and dips 89°,
Veins in ∼N-S normal fault damage zones have the same strike as whereas veins in the left-lateral strike-slip fault damage zones have an
the master slip surfaces, consistent with purely extensional kinematics average attitude of N31°E and dips 88° (Fig. 6D). Background veins
(Figs. 1B and 6A), whereas veins in NE-trending left-lateral strike-slip (well visible far from fault zones) are oriented mostly N-S and E-W, and
fault damage zones formed 10–40° counterclockwise with respect to the subordinately NE-SW (Storti et al., 2015).
master slip surfaces, recording transtensional to pure strike-slip kine- Fault zones also show widespread evidence for substantial dilation
matics (Figs. 1C and 6B). In general, most veins in the studied fault in the form of dilation breccias and infilling of centimeter-to meter-
zones are mm-to dm-thick mode ɪ (opening mode) veins with both thick veins by large calcite crystals (Figs. 2 and 6A, B). Dilation breccias
blocky and syntaxial calcite crystals (Fig. 6C). Crack-and-seal geometry and calcite infillings are localized primarily at fault tip zones, areas of
were also observed both in the field and thin sections (Mozafari et al., fault overlap, and zones of interaction between strike-slip and exten-
2015). Shear veins also occur in the study area, but are rare in the sional fault segments (Balsamo et al., 2016).

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 6. Vein geometries for (A) normal dip-slip and (B) left-lateral strike-slip fault zones in vertical and horizontal section, respectively. Red and blue triangles
indicate veins in fault damage zones. (C) Example of cm-thick, opening-mode vein with syntaxial growth. Coin for scale is 2.6 cm in diameter. (D) Stereographic
projections (lower hemisphere of Schmidt net) showing density contours of poles to veins (using a Schmidt counting grid with contouring interval C.i. = 4%) for
normal dip-slip and left-lateral strike-slip faults. Great circles indicate mean vein attitude. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the
reader is referred to the Web version of this article.)

5. Porosity of host rocks (Fig. 7A). Vein spacing ranges between a few cm and ∼80 cm (Table in
Fig. 7B), and vein apertures ranges from 0.5 to about 10 mm. Individual
Total porosity of most Natih A-C members exposed in Jabal H/S values in Natih A and B members vary from 0.1 to ∼8 (Fig. 7C),
Qusaybah is generally < 5%. The coarse-grained rudist debris in Natih with median values ranging between 0.21 and 1.36 (Fig. 7B).
C, which has porosity of ∼19%, is the exception of this rule (Table 3).
Median porosity values of Natih A, B and C members are very similar at
6.2. General trend of vein attributes in fault damage zone
2.1%,1.5% and 2.9% respectively.
Field observations indicate that fault damage zones have greater
6. Vein attributes in fault zones than background vein abundance (compare outcrop photographs in
Figs. 3A and 7A), which was used to establish fault damage zone
6.1. Background domain boundaries. The typical trends of vein A, H and S for a selected strike-
slip and normal dip-slip fault zone, are highlighted by moving average
Vein H/S values obtained along 5 background E-W-oriented scanlines curves indicated by thick lines in Fig. 8 (the whole dataset is provided
capture the variability of background deformation (N-S veins), through in Supplementary Material). In both cases, vein aperture ranges be-
collecting data from 1 scanline in Natih A and 4 scanlines in Natih B tween 0.5 and more than 20 mm (Fig. 8A and B). Vein height varies
(Fig. 7). Analyzed bed thicknesses range from ∼5 cm to ∼56 cm. Veins from few mm (veins shorter than bed thickness) up to several meters
far from fault zones are mostly strata-bound, i.e., confined within beds (bed-normal vein trace lengths generally greater than bed thickness) for

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Table 3
Summary table showing mercury-intrusion porosity results for Natih A, B and C members.
Natih member Sample # Remarks Density (g/cm3) Porosity (%) Median pore size (μm)

Natih A MM03 Mud-wackestone 2.6665 1.95 0.025


Natih A MM09 Packstone 2.6574 2.26 0.047
Natih A MM11 Packstone 2.7156 4.92 0.25
Natih A MM160 Mud-wackestone 2.6562 0.28 0.033
Natih B MM65 Mud-wackestone 2.6663 0.24 7.6
Natih B MM67 Fine wacke-packstone 2.7373 11.6 0.12
Natih B MM87 Mud-wackestone 2.673 1.49 0.025
Natih C MM126 Bioturbated pack- graistonestone 2.7036 0.69 0.47
Natih C MM123 Grainstone 2.7014 1.61 0.71
Natih C MM121 Grainstone 2.7123 19.34 12.2
Natih C MM142 Bioturbated mudstone with dolomitised burrows 2.7485 8.83 0.78
Natih C MM131 Bioturbated pack- graistonestone 2.7147 1.73 0.22
Natih C MM198 Graistonestone 2.7073 4.79 0.85
Natih C MM120 Bioturbated packstone 2.6916 1.74 0.029
Natih C MM138 Grainstone 2.7026 2.1 1.13
Natih C MM79 Bioturbated wacke-packstone 2.7009 0.72 93
Natih C MM95 Grainstone 2.7114 2.92 0.75
Natih C MM37 Mud-wackestone 2.7147 4.77 8.1
Natih C MM75 Bioturbated mudstone with dolomitised burrows 2.7042 5.21 0.17
Natih C WF36 Grainstone 2.7131 4.38 1.17

Fig. 7. Example of vein pattern in unfaulted background domain (A) and summary table of H/S values for N-S vein set measured along horizontal scanlines far from
the fault zones. (C) H/S versus distance diagrams showing H/S values generally lower than 2–3 for both Natih A and B members (horizontal grey line in all diagrams
shows median H/S value).

both fault types (Fig. 8C and D). Strata-bound veins are abundant and which changes from site to site (see Supplementary Material). These
generally represent ∼50–70% of total data. Veins shorter than bed trends are even less well evident in strike-slip damage zones.
thickness are almost ubiquitously distributed along the scanlines, Spacing between adjacent veins ranges from a few to several hun-
whereas thoroughgoing veins occur both inside fault damage zones and dreds of mms. In normal dip-slip fault zones, greater S values
in few vein corridors outside. In normal fault damage zones, 0–65.4% (200–400 mm) are mostly localized outside fault damage zones and
(median value 18.3%) of veins in hangingwall damage zones extend significantly decrease (up to few tens of mm) approaching master slip
beyond the studied beds, whereas in footwall damage zones they range surfaces. Strike-slip fault damage zones show a smaller decrease in vein
from 0% to 74.1% (median value = 24.8%) (Table 2). In strike-slip spacing (Fig. 8E and F, and Supplementary Material). Regardless of
fault damage zones, thoroughgoing vein abundance in ranges from 0% fault kinematics, vein H/S in fault damage zones is typically greater
to 51.3% (median value = 19.8%) (Table 2). It is worth noting that, than in the background domains where H/S < 2–3, with exception of
approaching the fault core, normal dip-slip damage zones does not local fluctuations due to vein corridors ranges from H/S∼3 to H/
show systematically an increasing vein height and aperture trend, S > 15–20 (Fig. 8G and H, and subsequent Figs. 9 and 10).

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 8. Examples of typical scanline datasets acquired in fault damage zones. The left column shows data from a left-lateral strike-slip fault zone, whereas the right
column illustrates data collected from a normal dip-slip fault zone. In all diagrams, the zero in the abscissa represents the master slip surface, and positive and
negative values indicate hangingwall and footwall blocks in normal dip-slip faults, respectively. The blue and red lines are the moving average curves calculated by
progressively averaging n = 5 data. (A, B) Vein aperture versus distance from master slip surface. (C, D) Vein height versus distance from master slip surface. (E–F)
Vein spacing versus distance from master slip surface. (G, H) H/S values versus distance from master slip surface. Boundaries of damage zones are placed where the
H/S mobile averaged is < 2–3 (background values). (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the Web version of
this article.)

6.2.1. Vein H/S in normal dip-slip fault damage zones 2.21), and from 2.96 to 26.38 in footwall damage zones (median
Vein H/S values calculated for adjacent veins in all scanlines are value = 9.18 ± 5.68) (Table 2). Higher median H/S values are asso-
plotted against the cross-sectional distance from master slip surfaces in ciated with fault zones offsetting the very thick bed of coarse-grained
Fig. 9. The thick vertical line intersecting the zero coordinate in the rudist debris in Natih C (e.g. Faults 2.29 and 3.35 in Table 2).
horizontal axis represents the position of the master slip surface, with
positive and negative values representing the hangingwall and footwall 6.2.2. Vein H/S in strike-slip fault damage zones
blocks, respectively. Diagrams are organized so that fault displacement Vein H/S values plotted against distance from master slip surfaces
increases from Fig. 9A to N. Subsidiary faults within damage zones are for strike-slip fault zones are shown in Fig. 10. The thick vertical line
marked by thinner vertical lines. In some cases, only one fault wall represents the position of the master slip surface, with positive and
block was analyzed due to the lack of suitable exposures. negative values representing the hangingwall and footwall blocks of
All fault zones show an increase in average H/S moving from steeply dipping oblique faults, respectively. Individual H/S values (grey
background deformation outside fault damage zones toward master slip dots) are generally < 30 and in many cases lower than 15 within fault
surfaces (Fig. 9). These increasing trends are neither regular nor smooth damage zones. Similar to normal fault zones, H/S values generally in-
with values oscillating between ∼5 to more than 30. The greater H/S crease from the outer boundaries of fault damage zones toward master
values are generally close to master slip surfaces, reaching a maximum slip surfaces and subsidiary faults (Fig. 7B, C, D, J). Yet, in some cases,
value of ∼40 in two normal fault zones with about 40–50 m of dis- H/S values do not increase abruptly close to master slip surfaces
placement (Fig. 9K, L). However, some normal fault zones have dis- (Fig. 7G, I). Median H/S values in fault blocks range from 3.34 to 10.03
placement of ∼60 m where average H/S values are less than 10 (Table 2). Collectively, for a given displacement range, median H/S are
(Fig. 9N), as well as low-displacement faults where average H/S > 10 generally less than for normal fault zones (e.g., compare Faults 3.35 and
(Fig. 9A and B). Furthermore, not all normal fault zones have greater 2.15 in Table 2).
values close to the master slip surface (Fig. 9H, N). It is worth noting
that, where present, subsidiary faults within damage zones are asso- 6.2.3. Fault damage zone width
ciated with localized, higher average H/S values (see Fig. 9C, D, N). The total width of damage zones in dip-slip and strike-slip fault
Median H/S values computed for all normal fault zones range from zones, measured from the outer margin of one damage zone across the
3.25 to 11.22 in hangingwall damage zones (median value = 6.63 ± fault to the other outer margin, are best fitted by exponential curves

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 9. H/S values versus distance from master slip surfaces recorded along scanlines across ∼ N-striking normal dip-slip fault zones. Each graph is labeled with the
site and fault zone number (see Fig. 1 and Table 1). The thick red lines represent the moving average curves calculated by progressively averaging n = 5 data. Pink
shaded areas highlight interpreted damage zones. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the Web version of this
article.)

(Table 1, Fig. 11A). The curves have quite similar shapes, indicating a Within normal fault zones, most veins have mean H > bed thickness,
general increase in damage zone width with increasing fault displace- except veins developed in the 3-5 m-thick layers of the Natih C member.
ment. Data also fall in the broad range of published values for the
widths of damage zones in carbonate faults (Fig. 11B) (Solum and 7. Cumulative analyses of vein attributes
Huisman, 2017).
7.1. Vein aperture versus vein height
6.2.4. Vein height versus fault displacement and bed thickness
Neither fault type shows a clear trend in vein height versus dis- Vein arrays in the 26 studied fault zones possess a wide range in
placement (Fig. 11C). Moreover, for similar displacement values, vein aperture (A) and height (H), spanning multiple orders of magnitude for
height in normal dip-slip fault damage zones is generally greater than both kinematic fault types (Fig. 12A–F). In particular, vein aperture
strike-slip counterparts. ranges between 0.5 and 185 mm, whereas vein height ranges from
Also, for similar bed thickness values, mean vein height in dip-slip several mm up to 6.5 m. Cumulative plots for each fault kinematic type
fault damage zones is greater than in strike-slip fault zones (Fig. 11D). and Natih member show a broad range in log-log space (Fig. 12A–C). In

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 10. H/S values versus distance from master slip surfaces recorded along scanlines across NE-striking left-lateral (A–I) and N-trending (J) right-lateral strike-slip
fault zones. Each graph is labeled with the site and fault zone number (see Fig. 1 and Table 1). The thick blue lines represent the moving average curves calculated by
progressively averaging n = 5 data. Blue shaded areas highlight interpreted damage zones. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the
reader is referred to the Web version of this article.)

Natih A and B members, vein height for both fault types is 101 to 103 7.2. Vein H/S versus fault displacement
times their aperture (10 A < H < 1000 A) (Fig. 12A and B). In the
Natih C member, vein height for both fault types ranges between 102 to A median H/S was calculated for each fault damage zone to provide
103 times their aperture (100 A < H < 1000 A) (Fig. 12C). estimates of deformation intensity (see Table 2). Median H/S values,
The average H values for different aperture classes (A = 0.5, 1, 2, 4, sorted by Natih members and fault kinematics, are plotted against fault
16, 32, 64 and 128 mm) are shown in Fig. 12D–F. Such diagrams, de- displacement in Fig. 13. They range from ∼3 to ∼26. Data are rather
spite the wide standard deviations of H data points, indicate that vein H scattered for both fault types and fault block, and generally do not show
increases with increasing vein aperture for both fault types, showing clear trends. Normal fault zones developed in the Natih C member
good best-fit lines in log-log space. Furthermore, it is worth noting that (Fig. 13C), where median H/S increases linearly with increasing dis-
in all Natih members, mean vein H in dip-slip fault zones is generally placement, provide a notable exception. It is worth noting that in many
greater than in strike-slip fault zones for a given value of aperture, cases, footwall damage zones in normal faults have greater median H/S
despite the large overlap in standard deviations. values than hangingwall damage zones.

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Fig. 11. Cumulative diagrams of (A) damage-zone width versus fault displacement, (B) fault-zone width versus fault displacement in log-log space compared to data
from published literature (smaller, pale red and blue symbols, Solum and Huisman, 2017), (C) mean vein height versus fault displacement, and (D) mean vein height
versus bed thickness for both dip-slip and strike-slip fault zones. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the Web
version of this article.)

7.3. Vein H/S versus bed thickness concomitant decrease in vein spacing (Fig. 8E and F) and increase in
vein height (Fig. 8C and D). This behaviour suggests that vein propa-
Median vein H/S values, sorted by Natih member and fault kine- gation and vein infilling occurred in damage zones during slip accu-
matics, are plotted against bed thickness in Fig. 14. In general, median mulation and fault growth. Compared with previously published data-
H/S values tend to increase with increasing bed thickness. Most data sets about joint spacing in layered rocks, our H/S values in fault damage
were collected from beds < 1 m thick, where H/S values in Natih A and zones (up to ∼40) have the same magnitude of Fracture Spacing Ratios
B members range from 3 to 13. In beds > 1 m thick, which mostly were (FSR) > 10 reported in the literature (e.g. Tan et al., 2014). However,
found in footwall damage zones of normal faults in Natih C members, a direct comparison between H/S and either FSR values, S/Tf values or
H/S ranges from 8 to 27. In particular, faults 2.29 and 3.35 developed fracture density (number of fractures per meter) is not straightforward,
in beds > 3 m thick and with displacement of 42 and 53 m, respec- since the latter parameters are designed for dealing with strata-bound
tively, have the greatest deformation intensity (median H/S = 15.5 and fractures mostly developed in folded, well-layered rocks.
26.4, Table 2). Thus, the thickest Natih C beds in the footwall damage Fault damage zones in the layered carbonates of the Natih
zone of high-displacement faults are apparently the most deformed. Formation widen with increasing fault displacement (Fig. 11A and B),
in agreement with previous studies about fault zone scaling (e.g.,
8. Discussion Torabi and Berg, 2011, and references therein; Choi et al., 2016; Solum
and Huisman, 2017). However, such damage-zone widening occurs
8.1. Deformation intensity and role of fault displacement without a corresponding increase in deformation intensity computed as
H/S values in Natih A and B members (Fig. 13A and B). This behaviour
Our data indicate that deformation intensity (measured by H/S ra- is unexpected since fault displacement scales, in many lithological and
tios) within fault damage zones is systematically greater than back- geological settings, with most fault attributes including fault zone
ground for all Natih members and both fault types (Table 2 and Figs. 9 thickness (Kolyukhin and Torabi, 2012; Shipton and Cowie, 2001), fault
and 10). This outcome is consistent with previous studies that show that and fracture length (Schultz et al., 2013), and grain size and perme-
macrofracture densities decay with distance from fault planes (e.g. ability reduction within fault cores (e.g. Balsamo and Storti, 2010). A
Savage and Brodsky, 2011; Choi et al., 2016 and references therein). In possible hypothesis for explaining a lack of increase in deformation
our case, the increase in deformation intensity recorded within the fault intensity versus displacement increase, at least in Natih A and B
damage zones, particularly in normal faults, is expressed by the members, is that in the very early stages of fault growth, background

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 12. Cumulative log-log plots of vein height versus aperture in normal dip-slip (red) and strike-slip (blue) fault damage zones. The left column data were collected
from faults that cut Natih A, the central column from faults that cut Natih B, and the right column from faults cutting Natih C member. Empty circles in (D–E) are
outliers not included in calculations of best-fit lines. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the Web version of
this article.)

vein height increased up to threshold values controlled by the me- stratigraphy, as this layer is confined by mudstone beds (see strati-
chanical stratigraphy, accompanied by the formation of new thor- graphic column in Figs. 1A and 2). Such mechanical stratigraphy is not
oughgoing veins of comparable H, which resulted in a rapid increase of evident in the more homogeneous Natih A and B beds, which lack ar-
H/S up to vein saturation with time, i.e. the state of vein density under gillitic interlayers that might arrest vein propagation. The large number
which vein infilling ceases (Davis et al., 2011). Further fault activity of veins with H > bed thickness in these members support the inter-
produced the outward migration of damage zones with the same vein pretation that individual beds are not individual mechanical units
growth mechanism and comparable H/S values, so that deformation (Fig. 11D). Therefore, we suggest that in thicker, more competent, and
intensity does not increase with displacement. Formation of subsidiary well-confined mechanical units of Natih C, vertical vein propagation is
faults and/or fracture corridors added local complications to this sce- inhibited (vein height greater than bed < 50%, Table 2) but pro-
nario (cf. Savage and Brodsky, 2011), causing localized peaks in the H/ gressive fracture infilling (i.e., formation of new veins) is promoted. In
S moving average curves (Figs. 9 and 10). Peaks in H/S profiles near the this hypothesis, differences in damage zone deformation intensity are
master slip surfaces of normal dip-slip fault zones suggest that de- controlled by the local mechanical characteristics of the units only.
formation preferentially accrued near the fault core, likely with pro- However, the fact that strike-slip faults with comparable displacement,
gressive fault slip. In contrast, the less peaked H/S profiles in strike-slip and developed in the same Natih C unit, have lower deformation in-
fault zones suggest a more distributed deformation with less localized tensity than extensional faults (e.g. Fault 2.15, Table 2 and Fig. 10I),
fracturing adjacent to the master slip surface during progressive fault points to the importance of non-lithological factors like burial depth,
slip. stress regime and fault kinematics.

8.2. Deformation intensity and role of mechanical stratigraphy 8.3. Deformation intensity and role of burial depth

Despite large variability, the diagram in Fig. 14 shows that The average H/S values calculated for each fault damage zone
beds < 1 m thick (Natih A-B) generally exhibit lesser deformation in- (summarized in Table 2) indicate that normal dip-slip fault damage
tensity than the two beds > 3 m (Natih C). For example, Fault 4.58a zones are generally more deformed than strike-slip ones (median H/S
and Fault 3.35 are normal faults with similar displacement of 50–60 m, ranging from 3 to 26 and from 3 to 10, respectively; see also Fig. 13).
but developed in different Natih members, and show different H/S This difference in H/S values largely reflects the greater vein height in
values with greater deformation intensity in Natih C layers (Fig. 9L, N normal fault damage zones (Fig. 11C and D) rather than differences in
and Table 1). This would suggest bed thickness alone might control vein spacing. This interpretation is consistent with other observations,
deformation intensity, at least for normal fault zones. However, we such as: (1) the number of veins with H > bed thickness in normal dip-
suggest that greater deformation intensity in the 3-5 m-thick and slip fault damage zones (up to 74.1% with a median value of 24.8% and
competent Natih C layer is due to the well-defined mechanical 18.3% in the footwall and hangingwall damage zone, respectively)

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 13. Cumulative statistical relationships of median H/S for vein populations for each fault versus fault displacement sorted by Natih member, fault kinematics,
and footwall or hangingwall damage-zone locations for normal fault zones. See text for details.

Further, evidence that normal dip-slip fault zones are collectively


more deformed than strike-slip fault zones is provided using aggregate
diagrams for deformation intensity data of all fault damage zones
(Fig. 15). In these diagrams, zero in the horizontal axis represent the
master slip surface, and positive (+1) and negative (−1) values re-
present the two fault blocks (hangingwall and footwall damage zone,
respectively, for the normal faults). In most intervals, normal dip-slip
faults have greater deformation intensity than strike-slip ones. The
diagrams in Fig. 15 also indicate that strain is symmetric across strike-
slip faults and asymmetric across extensional faults, with footwall da-
mage zone more deformed than hangingwall damage zone probably
due to the presence of strongly deformed Natih C units only in the
footwall damage zones (Fig. 9).
A possible explanation for such different deformation intensities
between the two fault types is differences in burial depth and stress
configuration during fault development. Strike-slip fault zones in the
Jabal Qusaybah anticline developed during early folding at ∼4 km
depth, whereas normal dip-slip fault zones developed during fold am-
plification and uplift at a shallower burial depth of < 2 km (Storti et al.,
2015; Mozafari et al., 2015; Balsamo et al., 2016). The lower confining
pressure during normal faulting is inferred to have facilitated overall
dilation during fault growth, expressed by both the greater vertical
propagation of veins (H increase) and the formation of new veins (S
Fig. 14. Variations in median H/S with bed thickness sorted by Natih member
decrease due to vein infilling) within damage zones. This interpretation
and fault kinematics. Background values refers to H/S values collected far from
the fault zones. See text for details.
is in agreement with mechanical, experimental and field datasets
(Mandl, 2005; Ishii, 2015, 2016 and references therein) which show
larger shear-induced dilation at shallower confining pressures and low
compared to strike-slip damage zones (up to 51.3% with median value mean stress. Stretching parallel to the fold hinge (Storti et al., 2015)
of 17.9%) (Table 2); and (2) the best-fit lines in vein height-aperture may also have enhanced dilation within shallow extensional fault
cumulative plots (Fig. 12D–F) which show that, in all Natih members zones, thereby facilitating vein propagation and infilling and, hence,
and for any given vein aperture class, vein H is systematically higher in resulting in a greater deformation intensity.
normal fault zones.

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 15. Comparison between deformation intensity in damage zones of normal dip-slip (A) and strike-slip (B) fault zones. Box plots across fault zones show median
values and interquartile distances of bulk H/S data with normalized distance across both kinematic types.

8.4. Evolutionary model data can be summarized as follows:

Fig. 16 shows a three-stage evolutionary conceptual model for the (1) Damage zone width increases with increasing displacement, and
normal dip-slip and strike-slip fault zones in Jabal Qusaybah anticline. deformation intensity within fault damage zones is greater than the
Both fault types developed in layered carbonates with a background pre-faulting state. Greater measured deformation intensity reflects
vein distribution, but they formed at different burial depths with the concomitant vein propagation (height increases) and infilling (vein
older strike-slip fault zones developing deeper than younger normal spacing decreases).
dip-slip fault zones. During the first stages (displacement ∼1 m), there (2) Despite the fact that deformation intensity is systematically higher
is an early vein infilling leading to saturation in both dip-slip and strike- within damage zones, it does not clearly scale with fault displace-
slip fault zones, with damage zones characterized by high deformation ment. This suggest that additional deformation is achieved chiefly
intensity (Fig. 16A and B). Vein height in shallower normal dip-slip by widening the damage zone rather than increasing the deforma-
fault zones is generally greater than strike-slip counterparts. With fur- tion in the existing damage zone.
ther displacement (stage 2, displacement ∼10 m), damage zones widen (3) High deformation intensity in damage zones is interpreted to be
for both fault types (Fig. 16C and D). In normal fault damage zones, pre- established in the first meters of displacement, and then to remain
existing veins propagate vertically and coalesce in the proximity of fault constant with progressive fault slip. Only normal faults developed
cores, resulting in large H/S values near the master slip surface. New in m-thick and competent beds (of Natih C) show a positive cor-
veins also form laterally as damage zone width increases. In contrast, relation between displacement and deformation intensity, sug-
new strata-bound veins form in strike-slip fault zones and vertical gesting a process of progressive stress concentration only in well-
propagation of veins is inhibited, most likely due to greater burial defined mechanical units.
depth. Collectively, deformation intensity within a given fault damage (4) Normal dip-slip fault zones are generally more deformed than
zone does not change significantly with respect to stage 1. Normal dip- strike-slip ones. Greater deformation intensity is recorded by larger
slip fault damage zones are more deformed than strike-slip zones as veins in normal fault damage zones. They probably result from
recorded by greater vein heights. In stage 3 (displacement ∼50–80 m), shallower burial depth and lesser confining pressure during exten-
damage zone widths increase further, and progressive veining occurs sional faulting.
via the same mechanisms in both fault types (Fig. 16E and F). Slip (5) Deformation intensity is generally symmetrically distributed
accumulation along secondary fault strands in both damage zones around strike-slip fault zones. In contrast, footwall damage zones in
provide additional veining and secondary peaks in H/S. In each fault normal dip-slip fault zones are more deformed that hangingwall
type, greater deformation intensity is localized in more competent, damage zones. Such asymmetric strain is neither related to changes
well-confined mechanical units (e.g., Natih C units). in fault geometry (i.e. flat-ramp shape), nor to rollover structures,
but variations of lithological properties across normal fault zones.
9. Conclusions
This analysis therefore suggests that burial depth and fault kine-
We have quantified deformation intensity (H/S values) in 16 normal matics strongly influence vein distribution in carbonate sequences. This
dip-slip and 10 strike-slip fault zones developed in Cretaceous Natih study may provide an effective workflow for field data collection and
platform carbonates during the evolution of the Jabal Qusaybah anti- analyses to quantify deformation intensity in fault zones, and may also
cline, North Oman. The results of statistical analysis of a total of 10839 contribute to build predictive scaling laws (fracture density and vein

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F. Balsamo, et al. Journal of Structural Geology 122 (2019) 38–57

Fig. 16. Conceptual models of vein development in shallower normal dip-slip and deeper strike-slip fault zones during progressive slip accumulation. See text for
details. FWDZ = footwall damage zone; HWDZ = hangingwall damage zone.

aperture frequency) useful for modelling folded and faulted carbonate SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL (DATA REPOSITORY)
reservoirs.
Diagrams showing vein attributes (Spacing, Aperture and Heights)
Acknowledgements against distance from master slip surface for all studied fault zones. See
summary Tables 1 and 2 and Fig. 1 in the main text for exact location of
We warmly thank the Editor William Dunne and the two reviewers each fault zone. For each studied fault zone, data are plotted with both
Laurel Goodwin and Fabrizio Agosta for their helpful comments, which fixed X-Y coordinates (left column) to facilitate overall comparison, and
improved significantly the early version of this manuscript. This work is with variable X-Y coordinates (inset on left column) to better highlight
part of a joint research project between Parma and KU Leuven uni- variability in vein attributes.
versities, funded by Shell Global Solutions International. Sharing field
and laboratory work with KU Leuven colleagues R. Swennen, P. References
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