Fault Mapping

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Exploration Technique: Fault Mapping

Exploration Technique Information
Exploration Group: Field Techniques
Exploration Sub Group: Data Collection and Mapping
Parent Exploration Technique: Data Collection and Mapping
Information Provided by Technique
Stratigraphic/Structural: Locates active faults in the area of interest
Hydrological: Can reveal whether faults are circulating hydrothermal fluids
Fault Mapping:
Faults are structural features of crustal rocks that are caused by tectonic forces. These features can create conduits for high temperature fluids to circulate in an otherwise impermeable rock formation. Given the right conditions, mapping these features can reveal high quality geothermal resources for electric power production or heat utilization.
Other definitions:Wikipedia Reegle

For geothermal exploration purposes fault mapping is a technique to help locate and identify geothermal systems that rely on faults as high permeability pathways for fluid circulation. There are many techniques that can be done to locate and characterize a fault. Mapping fault structures is of critical importance to locating high potential geothermal resources (Faulds et al., 2010; Faulds et al., 2006; Martini, et al., 2003; Nash et al., 2004; Caskey and Wenousky, 2000; Curewits and Karson, 1997).
Use in Geothermal Exploration
Fault mapping is an important exploration technique that can reveal high permeability conduits for hydrothermal fluids. Curewitz and Karson (1997) document the common relationship between active faulting and hydrothermal systems.

Data Access and Acquisition
Preliminary analysis often begins with air photos or DEMs to identify surficial features, ranging from headscarps, stream channel offsets, mud volcanoes, hydrothermal mineralization, etc. There are many ways to characterize a fault, most of which rely on geomorphology of the area. The more challenging aspect of fault mapping is determining the direction of slip, slip-rate, whether it is still active or not, and if it is circulating fluids. Since faults do not always have obvious surficial features, there can be several ways to locate and document their existence. But the most critical information for geothermal exploration is whether the fault is a conduit for hydrothermal fluids, this can be an easy or very challenging and expensive factor to determine. It is obvious that a fault system is transporting hydrothermal fluids if there are hot springs or other features (a few mentioned above) associated with the structure. It can be very challenging and expensive to determine whether a fault is circulating hot fluids if the structure has no surficial features, in this case geophysical techniques (subsurface mapping or hyperspectral imaging) or drilling is required.

Additional References
Faulds and Garside, 2003, http://www.nbmg.unr.edu/dox/of0327.pdf

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