Research project

Project fact sheet

Geometry of fractures in the carbonate carapace of a salt-dome, Jebel Madar (Oman)

Project researcher(s): 
Manuela C. Stehle
Project supervisor(s): 
Professor John Cosgrove
Project supervisor(s): 
Dr C├ędric M. John
October, 2010 - December, 2014


Salt domes form when the naturally buoyant salt in the subsurface starts to rise to the surface. Often, this salt movement occurs along major detachment faults,  and thus regional tectonic and the geometry of pre-existing sedimentary basin plays a major role in determining the emplacement and geometry of salt domes.

In the subsurface, salt domes can be excellent reservoirs. When the sediment cover above the evaporite layer is a carbonate rock, such as is the case in the Middle East, fracture carbonate reservoirs can be found.

Our project focuses on Jebel Madar, a salt dome with a carbonate carapace at the foothills of the Oman Mountains. We investigate the history of fractures in the carbonate carapace of the salt dome, and how this relates to the mechanical stratigraphy of the Jebel. First order questions are whether mechanical units will mimic stratigraphic units, and what control does the rock facies and subsequent diagenesis exert on mechanical properties of the rocks. 

At the same time, we are interested in the inter-relationship between the fracture network, representing brittle deformation, and pressure-solution features associated with sediment burial (stylolites). Hence, we plan on investigating the processes of stylolitization, where stylolites occur compared to mechanical and stratigraphic units, and the lateral extent and connectivity of stylolites in the Jebel. This fundamental knowledge is useful in populating subsurface model of similar salt domes, and there helps in reducing the uncertainties in subsurface predictions.