Natural fractures observed within the Lower Jurassic shales of the Cleveland Basin show evidence that pore pressure must have exceeded the lithostatic pressure in order to initiate horizontal fractures observed in cliff sections. Other field localities do not show horizontal fracturing, indicating lower pore pressures there. Deriving the burial history of the basin from outcrop, VR
and heat-flow data gives values of sedimentation rates and periods of depositional hiatus which can be used to assess the porosity and pore pressure evolution within the shales. This gives us our estimate of overpressure caused by disequilibrium compaction alone, of 11 MPa
, not sufficient to initiate horizontal fractures. However, as the thermal information shows us that temperatures were in excess of 95 C, secondary overpressure mechanisms such as clay diagenesis and hydrocarbon generation occurred, contributing an extra 11 MPa
of overpressure. The remaining 8.5 MPa
of overpressure required to initiate horizontal fractures was caused by fluid expansion due to hydrocarbon generation and tectonic compression related to Alpine orogenic and Atlantic opening events. Where horizontal fractures are not present within the Lower Jurassic shales, overpressure was unable to build up as high due to proximity to the lateral draining of pressure within the Dogger Formation. The palaeopressure
reconstruction techniques used within
this study give a quick assessment of the pressure history of a basin and help to identify shales
which may currently have enhanced permeability due to naturally-occurring hydraulic fractures.
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