Anatomy of fractures: Quantifying fracture geometry utilizing X-ray computed tomography in a chalk-marl reservoir; the Lower Cretaceous Valdemar Field (Danish Central Graben)

Aslaug C. Glad*, Armin Afrough, Frédéric Amour, Carlos A.S. Ferreira, Neil Price, Ole R. Clausen, Hamidreza M. Nick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Naturally fractured reservoirs tend to show heterogeneous permeability with open fractures enhancing the inherent diagenetic and depositional matrix fabric. Natural open fractures may function as pathways for fluid flow in tight (low matrix permeability) carbonate reservoirs and have a significant impact on the directions, magnitudes and heterogeneities of fluid flow and reservoir rock strength. Open fractures may however also facilitate the invasion of formation water while fractures that are partially or completely cemented can act as barriers to fluid flow. As a result, natural fractures significantly impact reservoir flow rates, anisotropy, storage, connectivity, recovery, and production. X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) offers a non-destructive technique to evaluate petrophysical parameters, such as porosity and permeability, and to assess the geometry, connectivity, and density of natural fractures, which are important constituents of chalk reservoirs. The purpose of this study is to investigate different types of naturally occurring fractures within the Lower Cretaceous succession of the Valdemar Field in the Danish North Sea. Six samples of core displaying at least one natural fracture on the surface are imagined; two samples of open fractures with plumose structure and hackle marks, three samples of shear fractures and finally one sample with deformation bands. The samples are imaged by CT and internal fractures are manually mapped. Image analysis provides detailed information on the fracture geometry in addition it indicates the presence of numerous microfractures hitherto not recorded in the Lower Cretaceous of the Danish North Sea. Core data show that fracture intensity can be significantly greater than calculated by conventional core interpretation techniques based on core surface observations. Further, apertures of both major and minor fractures are measured in CT images of all samples to determine if specific fracture types display characteristic that can distinguish them from other fracture types. As open fracture intensity increases, so too does permeability, likely enhancing reservoir connectivity on the field scale.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104936
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Aperture
  • Chalk
  • Fluid flow
  • Image segmentation
  • Natural fractures
  • Naturally fractured reservoir
  • Permeability
  • X-ray computed tomography


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