Energy Transition

Energy Transition | Carbon Capture, Storage and Utilisation

Understanding Faults and Fault Rupture – Applications to Fluid Trapping, Pressure Containment, and Induced Seismicity for Hydrocarbons and CCS (Utah, USA)

Course Code: N579
Instructors:  Peter HenningsRobert Krantz
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
5 days


Faults occur in all subsurface reservoirs and are critical elements for the entrapment of fluids and fluid pressure at geologic and anthropogenic timescales. Faults are easily made to rupture associated with subsurface operations and therefore pose containment risk. Evaluation of trap and containment effectiveness and hazard assessment begins with an understanding of fault evolution and 3-D geometry. Understanding the ability of faults to trap fluids and pressure begins with a static characterization of fault permeability architecture. Fault containment hazard assessment requires transition to the dynamic realm with consideration of in situ stress and geomechanical behavior. The course is outcrop and classroom based. The Moab fault system and surrounding geology provide exceptional examples of trap-scale structures with fault zone characteristics that vary depending on offset and juxtaposed rock type, which are documented to have both sealed and leaked over geologic time in patterns that are clearly expressed. Reframing these outcrops to subsurface application is immensely valuable in understanding static and dynamic fault behavior.

Business Impact. This course provides an analysis-level treatment of fault geometry, characterization of trap effectiveness, and assessment of rupture hazard with application to hydrocarbon exploration, reservoir development and management, fluid pressure containment analysis for CCS, and induced seismicity hazard assessment.

Duration and Training Method

This is a field course in Moab, Utah. Fieldwork includes visits to some of Earth’s best-exposed and thoroughly studied outcropping fault systems, presentations, exercises and discussions (40%). Classroom sessions include lectures (30%) and laptop-based computer exercises (30%).


Course Overview

Participants will learn to:
  1. Explain how faults form, displace and link in 2-D and 3-D.
  2. Describe how fault systems evolve over geologic time.
  3. Characterize controls on mechanical stratigraphy.
  4. Apply 3-D fault framework interpretation methods.
  5. Identify fault zone deformational fabrics and mechanics.
  6. Develop reservoir compartmentalization models.
  7. Differentiate static and dynamic fault seals, fault permeability and seal effectiveness.
  8. Predict fault reactivation likelihood for application to seal failure, containment breach, and induced seismicity.

Lectures, exercises and field visits will weave together three key subjects:

  1. Interpretation
    • Applying “kinemechanical thinking” to interpretation 
    • 3-D fault framework interpretation methods
    • Interpretation strategies
    • Recognition of faulting geometric and kinematic characteristics
    • Understand how faults form, displace and link in 2-D and 3-D
    • Understand how fault systems evolve over geologic time
    • Characterize mechanical stratigraphy controls
    • Identification of fault zone deformational fabrics and mechanics
  2. Analysis
    • Understanding crustal stress and fault mechanics
    • Application of Andersonian faulting theory
    • Understanding Mohr-Coulomb failure analysis, rock strength and effective-stress
    • Predicting fault frictional failure
    • Understanding the importance of critically stressed faults
    • Predicting fault zone contents and properties
  3. Application
    • Building complete fault framework interpretations
    • Describing structural evolution
    • Understanding of static and dynamic fault seals, fault permeability and seal effectiveness through time
    • Distributing fault properties and predicting leak points and flow barriers
    • Development of reservoir compartmentalization models
    • Predicting fault reactivation likelihood for application to seal failure and induced seismicity

Itinerary (provisional)

Day 0  

  • Participants arrive at Grand Junction, Colorado, in the late afternoon and transfer to Moab, Utah

Day 1  

  • Introduction to faults, fault interpretation (classroom)
  • Fault mapping in 3D (field)

Day 2  

  • Interpreting fault zones and fault rocks (field)
  • Fault zone architecture, fault rock types and properties, predictive models (classroom)

Day 3  

  • Characterizing leaky faults (field)
  • Fault mechanics, rupture, dynamic permeability (classroom)

Day 4  

  • Mapping and interpreting critical trap fault components (field)
  • 3D structural frameworks, trap and containment assessment (classroom)

Day 5  

  • Integrated final project and course summary (classroom)
  • Return to Grand Junction for late-afternoon flights home

This course is intended for geoscientists and reservoir engineers who work with layered faulted reservoirs. Participants would benefit from having a basic familiarity with structural geology.

Peter Hennings

Dr. Hennings is a Research Scientist at The University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology where he is the Principal Investigator in the Center for Integrated Seismicity Research and a Lecturer in the Department of Geological Sciences. Peter retired after 25 years in the petroleum industry where he worked as a research scientist (Mobil Oil and Phillips Petroleum) and technical manager (ConocoPhillips). Peter received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Texas A&M University and his Ph.D. from The University of Texas. Peter’s technical specialties include structural geology, seismic structural analysis, reservoir geomechanics, induced seismicity, and geology of the Laramide Rockies. Peter is an AAPG Distinguished Lecturer, GSA Fellow, and a founder of the AAPG Petroleum Structure and Geomechanics Division. Peter has taught more than 200 field seminars and classroom courses on seismic structural analysis, reservoir geomechanics, and Rocky Mountain structural and petroleum geology. Peter also teaches RPS Nautilus N074.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Texas – Structural Geology
MSc Texas A&M University – Structural Geology
BSc Texas A&M University – Geology
Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society of America
Registered Professional Geologist – Texas

Courses Taught
N074:Geological Seismic Interpretation Field Seminar: Compressional Systems (Montana, USA)
N379: Application of Geomechanics to Reservoir Characterization, Management and Hydraulic Stimulation (Wyoming,USA)

Robert Krantz

Bob consults for both hydrocarbon and metals companies through his business, GeoStructure LLC, providing technical solutions and professional training.  As an Adjunct professor he teaches classes and workshops, collaborates on research, and supervises graduate and undergraduate student projects. Bob completed his undergrad degree at the University of Utah, and graduate degrees at the University of Arizona, all focused on structural geology and tectonics, and especially on faults and fracture systems.  After grad school, Bob was an ELF-Aquitane Research Fellow at the Universite de Rennes, where he modelled fault reactivation.

Bob was the Principal Structural Geologist at ConocoPhillips, Geological Technology before retiring. He started his career in the Geological Research Division of ARCO. Since then, he held positions in R&D, exploration, and production geology at ARCO, Phillips, and ConocoPhillips.  Bob has worked on fault and fracture systems for more than 30 years. His current research focuses on the evolution of the Paradox basin in Utah, including fault zones and their fluid histories, the structural and tectonic evolution of the Catalina-Rincon metamorphic core complex in southern Arizona, and how best to teach structural geology, with a synthesis of core concepts and 3D cognitive skills.

When not engaged in geology, Bob enjoys hiking, biking, and skiing in Colorado, photography, and auto mechanics and restoration.

Affiliations and Accreditation
BSc University of Utah, Geology
MSc University of Arizona, Structural Geology
PhD University of Arizona, Structural Geology

Courses Taught
N579: Understanding Faults and Fault Rupture – Applications to Fluid Trapping, Pressure Containment, and Induced Seismicity for Hydrocarbons and CCS (Utah, USA)
N587: Fault Seal Analysis: Concepts, Methods and Applications

CEU: 4 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
RPS is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU. We comply with the ANSI/IACET Standard, which is recognised internationally as a standard of excellence in instructional practices.
We issue a Certificate of Attendance which verifies the number of training hours attended. Our courses are generally accepted by most professional licensing boards/associations towards continuing education credits. Please check with your licensing board to determine if the courses and certificate of attendance meet their specific criteria.