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Release faults, associated structures, and their control on petroleum trends in the Reco ncavo rift, northeast Brazil

Nivaldo Destro, Peter Szatmari, Fernando F. Alkmim, and Luciano P. Magnavita

AUTHORS Nivaldo Destro  Petrobras Research Center, Ilha do Funda o, Quadra 7, 20179-900, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; nivaldo@cenpes.petrobras.com.br Nivaldo Destro received his degree in geology and an M.Sc. degree in structural geology from the Escola de Minas of the Federal University of Ouro Preto, where he is also conducting a Ph.D. project. He joined Petrobras in 1986 as an exploration geologist. Currently, he is a structural geologist at Petrobras Research Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His work has concentrated on the sealing properties of faults. Peter Szatmari  Petrobras Research Center, Ilha do Funda o, Quadra 7, 20179-900, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Peter Szatmari received his diploma in geology from the Eotvos University in Budapest, Hungary and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom. After a few years as a visiting fellow at Princeton University, United States and working as a consultant, he joined Petrobras Research Center in 1980, teaching and organizing research groups in tectonics. His main interests are the role of Fischer-Tropsch synthesis in petroleum origin and salt tectonics. Fernando F. Alkmim  Department of Geology, Federal University of Ouro Preto, Morro do Cruzeiro, 35400-000, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil Fernando F. Alkmim received his degree in geology from the Escola de Minas of the Federal University of Ouro Preto (1978) and his Dr.rer.nat. degree in geology from the Technical University of Clausthal, Germany (1985). Alkmim is currently a professor at the Federal University of Ouro Preto, teaching field geology and tectonics. His research focuses on fault dynamics and Precambrian geology. Luciano P. Magnavita  Petrobras Exploration and Production Department, Anto nio Carlos Magalha es Avenue, 1113, 41856-900, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil Luciano Magnavita received a degree in geology from the University of Bras lia, Brazil, in 1976. He joined Petrobras in 1978, where he worked in the exploration department in Salvador. He obtained a Ph.D. in geology in 1992 from

ABSTRACT Release faults are rift cross faults, which develop to accommodate the variable displacements of the hanging-wall block along the strike of normal faults. Release faults are nearly perpendicular or obliquely oriented to the strike of the normal fault they are related to. They have maximum throws adjacent to the parent normal fault and die out in the hanging wall away from it. They form to release the bending stresses in the hanging wall and do not reflect the orientation of the regional stress field in a basin. Commonly, they show normaloblique displacements and are preferentially located along the strike ramps. Release faults may also act at the scale of an entire basin, reaching displacements of thousands of meters. Joints, shale, and salt diapirs may develop in association with release faults. Because all these structures represent domains of stress release, they may work as conduits for oil migration and oil traps in extensional basins. This is the case of the Reco ncavo basin in northeastern Brazil, a Cretaceous failed rift, connected to the eastern Brazilian continental margin basins. In the Reco ncavo basin, two large-scale release faults, with displacements in the order of 3 km, developed in the hanging wall of the rift border faults and control the location of the main oil fields.

INTRODUCTION According to Morley et al. (1990), rift cross faults are faults formed at high angles to the rift axis. Because of the seminal work on transfer faults by Gibbs (1984), rift cross faults have been variously interpreted in recent extensional tectonics literature as transfer faults (Gibbs, 1984, 1990), transverse faults (Letouzey, 1986; Colletta et al., 1988), hard-linked transfer faults (Walsh and Watterson,

Copyright #2003. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved. Manuscript received December 14, 2001; provisional acceptance June 20, 2002; revised manuscript received October 9, 2002; final acceptance February 20, 2003. DOI:10.1306/02200300156

AAPG Bulletin, v. 87, no. 7 (July 2003), pp. 1123 1144

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Oxford University, England. Since then, he has been working with several Brazilian basins. His main interests are tectonics and sedimentation in extensional basins, salt tectonics, and sealing processes associated with faulting. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This paper is a result of a Ph.D. project by N. Destro for Ouro Preto Federal University, Brazil. We thank Maria Alice N. F. de Araga o for the helpful contribution in the identification of release faults in the Reco ncavo rift. Andre A. Bender made thoughtful review and suggestions on an earlier version of this manuscript. Walter B. Maciel and Carlos Eduardo B. de Salles Abreu are thanked for their thoughtful comments on the influence of release faults in the formation of turbidity systems. John H. Shaw, John Lorenz, and an anonymous referee are thanked for their thorough, helpful, and constructive reviews. We thank Petrobras for provision of financial support and permission to publish. F. F. Alkmim received support from CNPq (Brazilian Council for the Scientific and Technological Development) grant #300833/99-7.

1991; McClay and Khalil, 1998), release faults (Destro, 1995; Roberts, 1996), and cutoff stretch accommodation faults (Stewart, 2001). The current interest stems largely from the genetic role these faults play in the architecture of rifts and extensional basins (e.g., Harding and Lowell, 1979; Bally, 1981; Gibbs, 1984, 1990; Letouzey, 1986; Rosendahl et al., 1986; Etheridge et al., 1987, 1988; McClay and Ellis, 1987; Colletta et al., 1988; Milani and Davison, 1988; Scott and Rosendahl, 1989; Morley et al., 1990). The purpose of this paper is to highlight the role that release faults, a variety of cross faults (Destro, 1995), played in both the development of extensional systems and hydrocarbon migration and accumulation. After a discussion on geometric, kinematic, and dynamic aspects of release faults, we present examples of release faults and associated fractures from the Reco ncavo rift basin of northeastern Brazil, where this peculiar type of cross structure exerts a major control on petroleum trends. The results presented here are based on data obtained during a structural analysis conducted in the field, along with geologic data including about 5000 wells and about 30,000 km of two-dimensional (2-D) seismic lines and 750 km2 of three-dimensional surveys. These subsurface data are synthesized in the structural contour map of Reco ncavo basin of Araga o (1994), which is adopted here.

RELEASE FAULTS Release faults are cross faults in general of normal character, which develop in the hanging-wall blocks of the main components of the rifts. Release faults were first identified in outcrops of the SergipeAlagoas basin, northeast Brazil and named falhas de al vio by Destro et al. (1990). Later, studying the same type area, and also based on regional seismic and well data, a more detailed investigation of release faults was carried out by Destro (1995). The term release has a genetic connotation, in the sense that these faults allow the releasing of the bending stresses of the hanging-wall blocks caused by the variation of displacement along the strike of normal faults. Mandl (1988) predicted the existence of cross faults similar to release faults by analyzing the stress changes that may occur in the hanging-wall block of a normal fault. Similar faults have been identified also in other areas (e.g., Souza Ferreira, 1990; Souza Ferreira et al., 1995; Roberts, 1996; Stewart, 2001). Stewart (2001) quantified the along-strike stretch of the hanging-wall blocks of normal faults and, modifying Destros (1995) term, called these cross faults cutoff stretch accommodation faults. Release faults form as a result of varying throws along the strike of a listric parent normal fault (Figure 1a). The hanging wall bends as a result of differential vertical displacements, so that cross faults and/ or fractures become geometrically and mechanically necessary to accommodate the increase of length along strike in the hanging wall (Figure 1a) (Destro, 1995). The release faults form to accomplish

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Figure 1. (a) Block diagram showing the displacement variation along the strike of a normal fault (modified after Destro, 1995). The rake of slickenside lineations (angle a) along the release faults is in the same range as the dip (angle u) of the normal fault. In (b), extension is greater than zero; in (c), it is equal to zero (further explanation in the text). Note that release faults die out at depth on the normal parent faults trace.

this local stretching, because faulting is the most active deformation mechanism in the brittle upper crust (Kuznir and Park, 1987; Morley et al., 1990), although ductile deformation also occurs (Larsen, 1988). Release faults do not connect distinct normal faults, but die out in an individual hanging wall (Figure 1a). Because release faults form to accommodate differential downdip movements of the hanging wall, they do not cut the normal fault planes or detachment surfaces at depths (Figure 1a, c). Because release faults are a result of differential downdip displacements of the hanging-wall blocks of the parent faults, they always present maximum vertical displacements smaller than the maximum vertical displacements of the parent faults to which they are related. Generally, release faults do not reveal strike-slip movements in seismic sections and in structural contour maps (e.g., flower structures, en echelon folds, and Riedel-type geometries) (Destro, 1995). The cross section of Figure 1b shows extension parallel to the transport direction of the parent normal fault. Because the increase in length of the hanging wall is caused by bending that resulted from differential vertical displacements and not by horizontal extension

along the strike of the parent normal fault, the net extension along this direction is zero (Figure 1c). Thus, release faults are compatible with regional plane strain deformation perpendicular to the normal faults during extension and do not necessarily indicate regional threedimensional strain. However, between the terminations of a parent fault, three-dimensional strain deformation must occur in the hanging wall (Destro, 1995). Because footwall uplift takes place beneath the major normal parent faults, footwall blocks may also display smallscale release structures, such as faults and joints. As shown above, release faults preferentially nucleate along strike ramps (Figure 2a, b). In these cases, an alternation of dextral and sinistral senses of horizontal displacement is expected to occur along the strike of the parent normal fault. In the example of Figure 2b, there is a line of neutral strike-slip movement caused by the opposite senses of displacements along the parent fault. In this region, compression may occur, forming reverse faults. When release faults are positioned at the terminations of the parent faults, their location may be caused by preexisting weak zones or contrasting rheological interfaces (Figure 2c). In this case, only one sense of displacement occurs along the whole length of Destro et al. 1125

Figure 2. Idealized structural contour maps, block diagrams, and cross sections of some basic types of release faults (modified after Destro, 1995). They may form on the strike ramps (a, b), at the normal fault tips (c), or distributed along the strike of the normal faults (d). The cross sections BB0 show that release faults do not present footwall uplift. Nondimensional structural contours indicated by numbers 1 (highest) to 5 (lowest). Arrows on map view represent the apparent lateral movements originated by the release faults. Note that in (c) and (d), preexistent weak zones control the release faults. 1126 Release Faults, Associated Structures, and their Control on Petroleum Trends

the parent normal fault. Release faults can also form a system of a large number of elements showing smaller displacements (Figure 2d), especially when the rocks involved display a preexistent pervasive fabric. Because bending of the hanging wall is greater along the strike ramps, release faults are more common over the ramps (Destro, 1995; Stewart, 2001). The greater bending of the hanging walls is represented by the smaller radius of curvature of contour lines, as shown in Figure 3a and b. The release faults tend to be perpendicular to the contour lines. In outcrops, they tend to be perpendicular to the strike of the bedding (Destro, 1995). Evidence from surface and subsurface data (e.g., Destro, 1995) indicates that the angular relationship between the parent normal fault and the associated release faults depends primarily upon the geometry of

the parent fault, whether they are curved or approximately straight in map view (Figure 3a, b). If the horizontal trace of the parent normal fault is curved, then the release faults located in the area of maximal curvatures of the hanging-wall contour lines are at low angle to the parent fault (Figure 3b). Conversely, if the horizontal fault trace is straight, then the hanging-wall contour lines become less curved, and the release faults are roughly perpendicular to the parent fault (Figure 3a). The release-faulting model predicts that the local stress field can strongly depart from the regional one. The stress field adjacent to a parent normal fault is shown in Figure 3c. The stress ellipsoid in the footwall of the normal fault reproduces the regional stresses, where the maximum principal stress (s1) is vertical, and the minimum principal stress (s3) is parallel to the extension direction (A). Along the release faults, which

Figure 3. (a, b) Idealized contour maps in hanging wall showing (a) high-angle release faults and (b) oblique release faults (modified after Destro, 1995). Nondimensional structural contours indicated by numbers 1 (highest) to 3 (lowest). (c) Stress-field state around normal and release faults (adapted from Mandl, 1988; Destro, 1995). (A) Regional stress field. (B) Reversion in the role of the intermediate (s2) and the smallest (s3) principal stresses, causing the formation of a release fault. (C) Perpendicular to s3, release fractures may develop parallel to the release faults. (D) Reversion among the three principal stresses, forming a reverse fault. (d) Block diagram showing the influence of a transfer zone and release faults in the formation of channels and turbidity systems in extensional basins. Note the formation of release faults disconnected from the parent fault (see text for further explanation). Destro et al. 1127

behave as normal faults, s1 is kept vertical, but the intermediate principal stress (s2) and s3 switch positions with respect to the regional stress field by rotating 90j (B). Perpendicular to the minimum principal stress (s3), release fractures may develop parallel to the release faults (C). Locally, where downslip was greatest, compression may occur in the hanging wall, rotating again the regional stress field; s3 becomes close to vertical, and s1 parallel to the strike of the parent fault (D) (see also Figure 3c). In general, release faults are normal faults. As a consequence of their genetic connection to the parent normal faults, they commonly show an oblique component of movement. However, because of their smaller horizontal displacements, release faults are not associated with flower structures, en echelon folds, and Riedeltype geometries on seismic sections and structural contour maps (Destro, 1995). Release structures can occur as single faults or as sets of elements of variable number and character, including the typical normal-oblique release fault, as well as reverse faults, fractures, gash veins, and diapirs, discussed further in this paper. Rosendahl et al. (1986) discuss the effects of accommodation zones on depositional processes. Morley et al. (1990) point out the importance of transfer zones to hydrocarbon exploration. These authors analyze the effect that footwall uplift, formed as a flexural isostatic response to displacement on major boundary faults, has on synrift sedimentation. Our work in extensional basins indicates that release structures form in largest number and diversity in accommodation or transfer zones, where two synthetic normal faults overlap or approach, as shown in Figure 3d. In this case, a synthetic approaching transfer zone (according to the classification of Morley et al. 1990) develops. In the area between the two faults, subsidence is enhanced, acting as a focal point of relatively higher quality reservoir rock. In this peculiar structural setting, the abundant release faults may play an important role in the basin dynamics, acting as favorable oil migration pathways. In decoupled extensional systems, like salt basins, release faults disconnected from the parent fault may form (Figure 3d), controlling the development of longer channels that may allow turbidity currents to flow to distant depocenters.

NCAVO BASIN THE RECO The Reco ncavo basin, located in northeastern Brazil (Figure 4), forms the southern portion of the Reco ncavo1128

Tucano-Jatoba rift, a Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous aborted branch of the South Atlantic rift system (e.g., Szatmari et al., 1985, 1987; Milani and Davison, 1988; Magnavita, 1992; Szatmari and Milani, 1999). Connected to the eastern Brazilian continental margin, the Reco ncavo-Tucano-Jatoba rift is an approximately 400km-long and 100-km-wide system of north- to northeasttrending half grabens (Figure 4) (Magnavita, 1992). The Reco ncavo basin is filled with strata deposited during prerift, synrift, and postrift phases, whose average thickness along the depocenters exceeds 6 km. Upper Paleozoic through Jurassic prerift deposits are mainly red beds (Alianc a Formation) and coarse-grained fluvial deposits (Sergi Formation). The synrift strata were deposited during the Neocomian, when active faulting along the eastern margin of the basin caused the deposition of fanglomerates greater than 4 km thick (Salvador Formation). In the deep lake that developed, shales of the Candeias Formation (main hydrocarbon source rocks) were deposited, along with occasional turbidity influxes and sandstone fan incursions (Netto and Oliveira, 1985). By the end of the Neocomian, in the Hauterivian, the subsidence rate declined, and a prograding system of delta fans filled the lake (Ilhas Group). The rift phase terminated with the Barremian Sa o Sebastia o fluvial sediments, which are unconformably overlain by the postrift Aptian conglomerates of the Marizal Formation. Late Cretaceous through Cenozoic postrift deposits are represented in the basin by a thin (100 m) veneer of alluvial and fluvial sandstones of the Barreiras Formation. The northeast-oriented and southeastward-dipping half graben of the Reco ncavo basin (Figure 4a, b) is bordered by the major Salvador fault and contains a series of synthetic and antithetic normal faults. The Salvador fault is the main normal fault of the basin and reaches displacements of as much as 6 km (Figure 4b). Other important normal faults are the Paranagua and Tombador faults, located at the western boundary of the basin. The map in Figure 4a depicts a series of cross faults, which are oriented at high angles to the rift axis. The most prominent among them are the south and north Mata-Catu faults, which, together with some smaller ones, will be described in the following sections. Figure 4 also shows other important features of the basin, like the Camac ari and Alagoinhas lows. They represent the deepest depocenters of the basin and are located, respectively, in the eastern and western portions of the basin. In the Camac ari low, the synrift sequence reaches a thickness of as much as 6 km. In the Alagoinhas low, it is about 3.9 km thick. In the southern

Release Faults, Associated Structures, and their Control on Petroleum Trends

Figure 4. (a) Simplified tectonic map on top of the prerift Sergi Formation for the Reco ncavo rift (modified from Araga o, 1994). Release faults: the south Mata-Catu and Itanagra-Arac a s release faults are related to the Salvador parent fault. The north Mata-Catu release fault, however, is associated to the Tombador parent fault. (b) Cross sections showing the position of the main border of the Reco ncavo basin to the east. (c) Strike section: note in this latter section the large displacement on the south Mata-Catu and ItanagraArac a s faults, and that they are associated to the major Salvador border fault. The Barra transfer fault is the southern limit of the Reco ncavo rift. Destro et al. 1129

portion of the basin, the top of the prerift sequence is about 2.5 km deep. To the northeast, the basin dies out.

NCAVO BASIN RELEASE FAULTS IN THE RECO As the Reco ncavo basin is a half graben limited by a single normal fault, the observed increase in length of the hanging wall suggests that release faults might be formed. The major north and south Mata-Catu faults (Figure 4) and several smaller cross faults terminate against the Salvador fault to the east, or against the major Tombador and Paranagua faults to the west, where they exhibit the maximum vertical displacements. All of them die out in the hanging-wall blocks toward the central areas of the basin. They are interpreted here as release faults, which formed to accomplish the increase in length of the hanging-wall blocks along the strike of the major Salvador border fault in the east and along the major faults of the western boundary of the basin. Our study of the geometric and kinematic properties of release faults in the Reco ncavo basin is based on the analysis of the south and north Mata-Catu faults, which are best exposed and documented in both seismic sections and well data. Figure 5a and b show seismic sections located, respectively, in the footwall and in the hanging-wall blocks of the south Mata-Catu fault. The major normal and release faults of the Reco ncavo basin are also clearly shown in the gravimetric map of the basin (Figure 6). The close relationship between the release faults and their associated parent faults is evident in Figures 4 and 6. For example, the south and north Mata-Catu faults are related, respectively, to the Salvador and Tombador parent faults. In these figures, it can also be seen that the Camac ari and Alagoinhas lows are controlled by the south and north Mata-Catu faults and are located near the intersection between these release faults and their associated parent faults. The south and north Mata-Catu faults (Figure 4) have been traditionally considered to be a single fault, called Mata-Catu fault, in which the sense of dip changes along its strike (e.g., Milani and Davison, 1988; Magnavita, 1992). On the basis of regional gravimetric and seismic data, Milani and Davison (1988) interpreted it as a transfer fault, in the sense of Gibbs (1984). Araga o (1994) mapped this fault zone and portrayed it as being composed of two distinct faults (Figure 4a), separated by a conjugate divergent collinear transfer zone, following the Morley et al. (1990) terminology. Based on 1130 Release Faults, Associated Structures, and their Control on Petroleum Trends

Figure 5. Seismic sections across (a) the hanging-wall and (b) the footwall blocks of the south Mata-Catu fault. The geometry of the reflectors and the stratigraphy from the wells indicate predominance of normal displacements along the fault. Modified from Souza Ferreira (1990).

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over a strike ramp in the hanging wall of the Tombador fault (Figure 4). Although the Salvador fault is strongly controlled by the foliation of the basement granulites (Magnavita, 1992), outcrops in the Precambrian basement adjacent to the south Mata-Catu fault are sparse, which make it difficult to confirm the influence of a preexistent weak zone. In addition, the Salvador border fault zone has a complex geometry, which may have constrained the position of release faults. As shown previously, the release faults do not necessarily indicate regional three-dimensional strain in extensional basins. This is the case in the Reco ncavo basin, where the regional extension direction is approximately perpendicular to the axis of the basin; that is, northwest-southeast oriented (e.g., Szatmari et al., 1985, 1987; Milani and Davison, 1988; Magnavita, 1992; Szatmari and Milani, 1999).

The South Mata-Catu Fault Figure 6. Bouguer map of the Reco ncavo basin (modified after Figueiredo et al., 1994). The relation between the release faults and their associated parent faults is also evidenced in this map. The north and south Mata-Catu faults are characterized along a clear northwest-southeast anomaly confined in the basin. Contours are in milligal. The geometric and kinematic properties of the south Mata-Catu release fault were defined by the analysis of exposures along the fault zone, especially in the areas between the towns of Mata de Sa o Joa o and Catu (Figure 7). The south Mata-Catu fault is a superb example of a release fault, with a very large, as much as 3 km, vertical displacement, giving rise to a large number of subordinate mesoscopic-scale release faults that crosscut normal faults oriented parallel to the rift axis. In outcrops along the south Mata-Catu fault, bedding trends preferentially northwest and dips toward the southwest (Figure 8a), controlled by the northwesttrending fault. The dip to the southwest is caused by drag on faults dipping southwest, and tilting of beds toward fault planes dipping northeast. The northwest-trending faults along the south MataCatu fault zone are mainly normal and normal-oblique faults and are marked by the development of deformation bands (Aydin and Johnson, 1978), showing millimetric to centimetric thicknesses (Figure 9a). They consist of a series of light-colored, more resistant silicified strands of comminuted or pulverized rock. The discrete fault surfaces, commonly displaying slickenside striations, are observed internally or at the boundaries of the deformation bands. Sometimes these faults join together, forming fault zones with metric thicknesses. They are observed cutting mainly coarse-grained sandstones of the Sa o Sebastia o Formation. They strike about 340j and dip about 70j to northeast and southwest (Figure 8b).

field data, described in detail below, we have deduced that the south and north Mata-Catu faults are normaloblique faults, dipping 70j to the southwest and 70j to the northeast, respectively. The data by Araga o (1994) and our present field data have led us to propose that these faults are release faults, instead of transfer faults. According to Souza Ferreira (1990) and Magnavita (1992), the south Mata-Catu fault has experienced two main phases of movement, the first in the early Valanginian and the second in the late Barremian, being active during the entire rifting period. According to those authors, the north Mata-Catu fault nucleated during the Hauterivian, and its movement climaxed during the late Barremian. Both the south and north Mata-Catu faults cut the sediments of the Sa o Sebastia o Formation, the youngest rift phase unit, thereby indicating that both were still active in late Barremian/early Aptian. A unique aspect of the south Mata-Catu fault is that it is not located over a ramp with respect to the hanging wall of the major Salvador fault (Figure 4). This may be caused by the existence of a preexistent weak zone, also suggested by its strong alignment with the north Mata-Catu fault, the latter clearly positioned 1132

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Figure 7. Geologic map of the study area (adapted from Petrobras, 1969; Souza Ferreira, 1990; Magnavita, 1992). Along the south and north Mata-Catu faults, both northwest- and northeast-trending faults are observed in outcrops. The Camac ari and Alagoinhas lows are located at the extremities of the south and north Mata-Catu faults. The north Cassarongongo fault (NCSF) presents reverse displacement, whereas the south Cassarongongo fault (SCSF) shows normal displacement. The slickenside striations on the fault planes of the northwest-trending faults plunge about 50j toward the south-southwest and north-northeast, with relatively high rakes (Figures 8c, 9b). Because the northwesttrending faults strike about 340j (Figure 8b), this indicates that these faults have both dip-slip and oblique-slip displacements. The concentrations in the south-southwest and north-northeast portions of the Destro et al. 1133

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stereogram of Figure 8c represent a predominance of normal-sinistral faults along the south Mata-Catu fault, although normal-dextral faults are also observed (Figure 8c). The sense of displacement on the faults was determined on the basis of the displacement of markers and the drag of bedding, coupled with slickenside analysis. The slip-linear plot (Marshak and Mitra, 1988) for northwest-trending faults in Figure 8d shows that most of the striations point toward the center of the stereogram, indicating predominance of dip-slip and obliqueslip faults with relative high rakes. Pure strike-slip faults are sparse and are represented by arrows at low angles to the equatorial circle (Figure 8d). The northeast-trending faults are parallel to the rift axis and show the same geometric characteristics as the northwest-trending faults. These two systems commonly cut and displace each other in outcrops (Figure 9a). The northeast-trending faults strike about 30j and dip around 70j (Figure 8e). The striations on these faults are predominantly steep and are represented by heavy dots in Figure 8f. Slickenside striations dipping less than 45j are represented by open triangles in Figure 8f. This behavior can be observed in the slip-linear plot (Figure 8g), where normal, strike-slip, and oblique-slip faults are observed. As a result of the connection between the northwest- and northeast-trending fault systems, the strike-slip component of displacement is locally favored on both systems because of the lateral movement between adjacent blocks. The maximum vertical displacement of the south Mata-Catu fault is about 3 km (Figure 4c), whereas the displacement of the Salvador fault, its parent fault, is about 6 km in this area (Figure 4b). This is in accordance with the release-faulting model, which predicts that the parent faults always present displacements greater than their associated release faults. As shown previously, in outcrops located along the south Mata-Catu fault, the

northwest- and northeast-trending faults offset each other. Because the displacements along the south Mata-Catu fault are much greater than the displacements along these small-scale secondary northeast-trending faults, these latter faults act as local transfer structures with respect to the northwest-trending release faults and show, as a result, low rake striations (Figure 8g). One outcome of the complexity of the kinematic interactions between normal faults and release faults is suggested by Destro (1995), who pointed out that subhorizontal slickenside lineations may be occasionally found on both normal and release faults (see also Figure 2). Thus, it is not necessary to invoke regional strike-slip faulting and horizontal compressive stress to explain the low rakes of slickenside lineations on both normal and release fault planes, unless there is additional evidence that this occurs, such as evidence from seismic and well data.

The North Mata-Catu and Cassarongongo Faults Along the north Mata-Catu fault zone, bedding dips gently to the northeast (Figure 8h). Although exposed in fewer outcrops, two systems of small-scale northwestand northeast-trending faults are observed around the north Mata-Catu fault (Figure 8i, j), similar to the south Mata-Catu fault. A few slickenside striations are observed on the northeast-trending faults, and similar to the south Mata-Catu fault, they show both normal and oblique-slip displacements (Figure 8k). Slickenside striations on the northwest-trending faults are sparse. To study the behavior of northeast-trending faults outside the domain of the south and north Mata-Catu faults, field work was carried out in the area of the south Cassarongongo fault (Figure 7). Bedding planes show gentle dips (Figure 8l). Only northeast-trending

Figure 8. Data from the south Mata-Catu fault: (a) equal-area lower hemisphere contoured stereogram of poles to bedding; (b) contoured stereogram of poles to faults trending northwest; faults strike about 340j and dip about 70j; (c) contoured stereogram of plots to slickenside striations for northwest-trending faults; (d) slip-linear plots for the arrays of northwest-trending faults; the arrows point mainly toward the center of the stereogram, indicating predominance of normal to normal-oblique movements; (e) stereogram of poles to faults trending northeast; (f) plots to slickenside striations for northeast-trending faults; open dots represent striations plunging less than 30j; (g) slip-linear plots for northeast-trending faults; this plot shows that strike-slip and oblique normal displacements are also important in this fault set. Data from the north Mata-Catu fault: (h) stereogram of poles to bedding, also showing a subtle but visible influence of the north Mata-Catu fault; (i) stereogram of poles to northwest-trending faults; ( j) stereogram of poles to northeast-trending faults; the pattern of distribution of these faults is similar to the pattern of their correspondent faults in the south Mata-Catu fault; (k) slip-linear plots for northeast-trending faults. Data from the Cassarongongo area (south Cassarongongo fault): (l) stereogram of poles to bedding; (m) stereogram of poles to northeast-trending faults; (n) sliplinear plots for northeast-trending faults; in this area, only northeast-trending normal faults were observed. Destro et al. 1135

Figure 9. (a) Fault zones cutting the sandstones of the Sa o Sebastia o Formation, trending northwest and northeast, parallel, respectively, to the south MataCatu fault and to the rift axis (locality 1 in Figure 7). (b) Northwest-trending fault plane in outcrop shown in (a). It dips southwest and shows slickenside striations with relatively high rakes.

faults were observed (Figure 8m); they show predominance of dip-slip movements (Figure 8n). Based on the studied field data, as well as seismic and well data, the proposed regional stress field for the major normal faults and the local stress fields for the main release faults are shown in Figure 10.

IMPORTANCE OF RELEASE FAULTS TO HYDROCARBON ACCUMULATIONS IN NCAVO RIFT THE RECO Commercial oil production in the Reco ncavo basin dates back to the early 1940s and resulted in the discovery of as much as 80 hydrocarbon accumulations. gua GrandeThe main petroleum system is the Sergi/A 1136

Candeias, accounting for 2.7 billion bbl (57%) of the proven oil volume in the basin (Figueiredo et al., 1994). The Sergi Formation is the main reservoir (eolian-fluvial system), averaging 18% porosity and 800 md permeability. In this section, we analyze the role of release faults and several release faulting-related cross structures in the distribution of oil fields in the Reco ncavo rift, including shale diapirs, release fractures, and a reverse fault. As presented below, these structures contribute in particular ways to the formation of structural traps. Oil Fields Located along the South and North Mata-Catu Faults The south and north Mata-Catu faults produced the most prolific petroleum trend in the Reco ncavo basin,

Release Faults, Associated Structures, and their Control on Petroleum Trends

Figure 10. Block diagram showing major features of the Reco ncavo basin and associated local stress fields. Legend: (A) stress ellipsoid representing the regional stress field, which was responsible for the northwest-southeast extension; (B) stress fields around the main release faults; in this case, there is a reversion in the role of the intermediate (s2) and the smallest (s3) principal stresses; (C) the orientation of the principal stresses are the same as in (B), but s3 becomes negative, allowing the formation of open fractures in the Candeias area; (D) reversion among the three principal stresses, which caused the formation of the north Cassarongongo reverse fault; note that the vertical displacement of the south Mata-Catu fault is smaller than the displacement of the Salvador fault, its parent fault. with oil fields located in their footwalls blocks (Figures 11, 12). The fields along this trend produce almost only from the prerift Sergi reservoir, filled with oil generated from synrift source rocks. The oil kitchen coincides with the main lows (Camac ari and Miranga lows). Because the synrift source rocks of the Candeias Formation (Lower Cretaceous) are above the Sergi Formation (Upper Jurassic), traps are typically structural (horsts and tilted Destro et al. 1137

Miranga Field The Itanagra-Arac a s fault, located at the eastern border of the basin (Figures 11, 12), is parallel to the south and north Mata-Catu faults. It has a maximum throw of about 2 km near the Salvador fault (see also Figure 4c), dying out basinward. The reservoirs correspond to deltaic sandstones of the synrift upper Neocomian to Barremian Marfim and Pojuca formations. As pointed out above, it seems that this fault also formed as a release fault, helping to accommodate the variation in displacement along the Salvador fault. The release of stress along it resulted from local extension subparallel to the rift axis (see Figure 10 for the local position of s3). This allowed the development of shale diapirs from the Candeias Formation parallel to the Itanagra-Arac a s fault (Figure 13a, b), as well as northeast-trending diapirs of the Candeias Formation parallel to the Salvador fault (Figure 13a, c). The diapirs formed along the Itanagra-Arac a s fault are better developed than the ones formed parallel to the Salvador fault (compare Figure 13b, c). This suggests that the minimum principal stress (s3) perpendicular to the release fault, i.e., parallel to the rift axis, is smaller than the regional minimum principal stress (s3), parallel to the extension direction, as predicted from the release-faulting model. Figure 13a shows that the closure of the northern portion of the Miranga field is caused by the influence of a major northwest-trending shale diapir, parallel to the Itanagra-Arac a s release fault. Candeias Field The Candeias field lies in the southern portion of the Reco ncavo rift (Figure 11). Open fractures oriented transversally to the rift axis are responsible for most of the oil production in this field. The fractures cut calciferous shales of the synrift Candeias Formation (Figure 14a) at a depth of about 2 km. They can be as much as 0.5 cm open, with quartz crystals lining their walls and reaching as much as 1 cm in length and enclosing oil bubbles. The structural description of these fractures in cored well shows that they trend northwest (Figure 14b), parallel to the south and north MataCatu faults. Breakout data from the Reco ncavo basin indicate that the present maximum horizontal stress (SHmax) is parallel to the rift axis (Lima et al., 1997) and thus, at high angle to these open fractures. The occurrence of open fractures where quartz crystals did not develop shows that the change of the stress field since rifting has not been sufficient to close them. In Figure 10, the arrow indicating s3 in the Candeias area

Figure 11. Distribution of the oil and gas fields in the Reco ncavo basin. The south and north Mata-Catu faults, the ItanagraArac a s fault, and the south and north Cassarongongo faults (SCSF and NCSF) constitute important petroleum trends in the basin. blocks), and secondary hydrocarbon migration may rely on pathways along some fault zones (Magnavita, 2000). Release faults do not present footwall uplift that occurs along major normal boundary faults because of flexural isostatic response to displacement. We suggest that the reservoirs located in the footwall blocks of both the south and north Mata-Catu faults were preserved from erosion by this process. By analyzing the membrane potential sealing of a fault zone of the Reco ncavo-Tucano-Jatoba rift, Magnavita (2000) observed a reduction in pore diameter of at least two orders of magnitude, the resulting difference in capillary pressure, being capable of trapping hydrocarbons. For the Mata-Catu fault trend, he observed that some faults must have leaked, and others must have sealed, with vertical migration along faults and lateral migration along carrier beds, in the present gua Grande carrier bed system. case of the Sergi and A This process would have allowed hydrocarbons to enter the fault-reservoir system of the Buracica field, at a distance of about 40 km from the oil kitchen. 1138

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gua Grande field. Figure 12. Geological sections across the (a) south and (b) north Mata-Catu faults (adapted from Souza Ferreira, 1990). (a) Cross section through the A (b) Cross section through the Buracica field.

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Figure 13. (a) Geologic map at the level of the Marker 7 in the Miranga field area (modified from De Maman et al., 1997). Northeast and northwest-trending shale diapirs developed to the north of the Miranga field. The northwest-trending diapirs are parallel to the Itanagra-Arac a s fault. (b) Northwest-trending shale diapirs, parallel to the ItanagraArac a s fault. (c) Northeast-trending shale diapir parallel to the Salvador border fault. Note that the shale diapirs shown in (b) are better developed than the one shown in (c) (further explanation in the text).

Figure 14. (a) Subvertical open fractures (indicated by arrows) observed in calciferous shales of the Candeias Formation. These fractures are responsible for most of the oil production in the Candeias field (see Figures 10, 11 for location). (b) Equal-area lower hemisphere contoured stereogram of fractures shown in (a) (modified from Martins et al., 1997). They strike 340j and are parallel to the south and north Mata-Catu release faults. These fractures are preserved open at depths as much as 2 km.

corresponds to a tensile stress. As shown previously, the release faults and fractures tend to form over the strike ramps. In Figure 10, it can be seen that the Candeias field is located over the ramp of a local normal fault, as well as over the southern ramp of the entire Reco ncavo basin, adjacent to the Salvador fault. Field and subsurface evidence in some Brazilian rifts, like the Sergipe-Alagoas basin (Destro, 1995) and the Reco ncavo basin (this work), indicate that release fractures oriented parallel to release faults are more common than fractures developed parallel to the rift axis. It would be reasonable to expect that these latter fractures are more common because they are perpendicular to the regional and overall extension direction. However, they are scarce or practically absent in those rifts. We believe that the release-faulting model may clarify this unexpected observation. It has been shown by several authors (e.g., Rosendahl et al., 1986; Morley et al., 1990; Destro, 1995) that most of the deformation in rifts takes place along the major border faults. Thus, in the basin, the minimum regional principal stress (s3) parallel to the extension direction would not easily reach negative values necessary to form tensile fractures. In contrast, release faults form in the hanging wall of normal faults, where deformation concentrates so that the local minimum principal stress (s3) reaches

negative values, and consequently, tensile release fractures may develop.

Brejinho Field The Brejinho field is located in the western border of the Reco ncavo rift (Figure 11). The reservoir is also composed of sandstones of the prerift Sergi Formation. It lies in an anticlinal feature associated with the reverse north Cassarongongo fault (Figure 15a, b); the south Cassarongongo fault has normal slip motion (Figure 15). The Cassarongongo fault is located in the region of maximum throw of the major Paranagua fault (Figure 15). The release-faulting model predicts localized compression in this portion of the hanging-wall blocks of the major normal faults because the portions of a hanging-wall block located at the opposite sides of the line of neutral strike-slip motion moved toward each other (Figure 2b). The strong bending of the hanging wall in this downwarped area also reflects this compression. The Canabrava oil field is also located in the reverse segment of the north Cassarongongo fault (Figure 11), whereas the Cassarongongo field is situated on the footwall of the south Cassarongongo fault, which presents dip-slip motion (Figure 15). Destro et al. 1141

Figure 15. Structural contour map on top of prerift sequence for the Cassarongongo area (modified after Araga o, 1994). The north Cassarongongo fault has reverse-slip displacement (compare with Figure 2c), whereas the south Cassarongongo fault has normal-slip movement. Note smaller release faults (indicated by arrows) located on the strike ramps and at high angles to the strike of the Paranagua fault. (b) Seismic section through the north Cassarongongo fault where its reverse-slip displacement is shown (after Araga o, 1999).

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS To characterize release faults, it is necessary to distinguish them from transfer faults. Destro (1995) showed that both may be present in rifts, but that they are genetically distinct. Gibbs (1984) formally suggested the term transfer fault in analogy with tear faults in thrust systems (Dahlstrom, 1969). He pointed out that transfer faults allow leakage between extensional faults with differing rates and that the presence of a strike-slip component on transfer faults is important, 1142

as such faults will have displacements much larger than the dip-slip component apparent on a single geoseismic line. (Dahlstrom, 1969, p. 616). The cross faults in the Reco ncavo rift are distinct from transfer faults exactly in these two aspects: (1) they are associated with individual normal faults (the border faults), dying out in the hanging wall before reaching other normal faults, and (2) vertical movements predominate over horizontal motion on them. Although this work identified only release faults in the Reco ncavo rift, in the contiguous Tucano rift, two transfer faults were described, the Jeremoabo fault

Release Faults, Associated Structures, and their Control on Petroleum Trends

(Destro et al., in press) and the Carita fault (D. V. F. Vasconcellos, 2002, personal communication). These faults fit Gibbss (1984) definition of transfer faults, in that they connect distinct border faults and present a predominance of strike-slip displacements. The identification of these transfer faults had the support of a regional accurate fieldwork by Magnavita (1992) and a structural subsurface map of the Tucano-Jatoba rift by Araga o (1994), which resulted from the interpretation of about 10,000 km of 2-D seismic lines and 114 wells. We propose that the faults and associated structures described here are a result of a broad, scale-independent process named release faulting, in which release faults and associated structures form at high angles to parent normal faults to accommodate lateral changes in the vertical subsidence of basins. We also emphasize that this process may be important not only in rift basins, but any extensional basin (e.g., passive margin and salt basins) and that they may play a major role in the evolution of petroleum systems.

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