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Physical modelling of sand injectites

Abstract : Sand injectites are structures that result from intrusion of fluidized sand into fractures. We have studied them in the Tampen Spur area of the North Sea, and have reproduced them experimentally, by driving compressed air through layers of sand, glass microspheres, and silica powder. The silica powder was cohesive and capable of hydraulic fracturing, whereas the sand and glass microspheres were almost non-cohesive and therefore able to fluidize. The models were dynamically similar to their natural counterparts, for as long as equilibrium was static. When the processes became dynamic, so that inertial forces were significant, the scaling was approximate and the corresponding Reynolds numbers differed. The experimental apparatus was a square box, 1 m — 1 m wide, resting on a grid of fluid diffusers. During the experiments, the fluid pressure increased, until it attained and surpassed the weight of overburden. Flat-lying hydraulic fractures, containing air, formed within cohesive and least permeable layers. Heterogeneities in material properties and layer thicknesses were responsible for localizing fracture networks. When any one network broke through to the surface, rapid flow of air through the fractures fluidized the underlying mobile materials and even depleted some of the layers. Some of the fluidized material extruded at the surface through vents, forming volcanoes and sheets. The remainder lodged at depth, forming sand injectites or laccoliths. Conical sand injectites formed preferentially, where layers had high resistance to bending. Laccoliths formed nearer the surface, where overlying layers had low resistance to bending. The experimental sand injectites were broadly similar to those in the Tampen Spur area of the North Sea, as well as other areas.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 11:21:58 AM
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N. Rodrigues, P.R. Cobbold, Helge Loseth. Physical modelling of sand injectites. Tectonophysics, Elsevier, 2009, 274 (3-4), pp.610-632. ⟨10.1016/j.tecto.2009.04.032⟩. ⟨insu-00426863⟩



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