FAULT-SLIP DATA ANALYSIS AND COVER VERSUS BASEMENT FRACTURE PATTERNS – IMPLICATIONS FOR SUBSURFACE TECHNICAL PROCESSES IN THURINGIA, GERMANY
Abstract:Recent investigations in Thuringia, Central Germany, focus on the potential for carbon sequestration, groundwater supply and geothermal energy. We report on the results of an integrated fault-slip data analysis to characterize the geometries and kinematics of systematic fractures in contrasting basement and cover rock lithologies.
The lithostratigraphy of the area comprises locally exposed crystalline rocks and intermittently overlying Permian volcanic and clastic sedimentary rocks, together referred to as basement. A Late Permian sequence of evaporites, carbonates and shale constitutes the transition to the continuous sedimentary cover of Triassic age. Major NW-SE-striking fault zones and minor NNE-SSW-striking faults affect this stratigraphic succession. These characteristic narrow deforming areas (< 3 km width) build a dense network of individual fault strands with a close juxtaposition to wider (> 15 km) non-deforming areas suggesting localized zones of mechanical weakness, which can be confirmed by the frequent reactivation of single fault strands.
Along the major fault zones, the basement and cover contain dominant inclined to sub-vertical NW-SE-striking fractures. These fractures indicate successive normal, dextral strike-slip and reverse senses of slip, evidencing events of NNE-SSW extension and contraction. Another system of mostly sub-vertical NNW-SSE- and NE-SW-striking conjugate strike-slip faults mainly developed within the cover implies NNE-SSW contraction and WNW-ESE extension. Earthquake focal mechanisms and in-situ stress measurements reveal a NW-SE trend for the modern SHmax. Nevertheless, fractures and fault-slip indicators are rare in the non-deforming areas, which characterizes Thuringia as a dual domain of (1) large unfractured areas and (2) narrow zones of high potential for technical applications. Our data therefore provide a basis for estimation of slip and dilation tendency of the contrasting fractures in the basement and cover under the present-day stress field, which must be taken into account for different subsurface technical approaches.