Fifth EAGE Workshop on Naturally Fractured Rocks Field Trip

Virtual & Physical Field Trips in Naturally Fractured Rocks

Trip Leaders : Pascal Richard1, Juliette Lamarche2, Thomas Finkbeiner3, François Civet41: PRgeology; 2: Aix Marseille University – CEREGE; 3: King Abdullah University of Science & Technology; 4: VR2Planets

Jebel Madar South West corner overview from drone survey (picture from Drone survey, KAUST)


The 1-Day excursion will take place in the foothills of the Oman mountains where the absence of vegetation provides world class outcropping conditions. We will visit Jebel Madar, a salt core anticline developed in the Tertiary as the result of the collision between the Arabian and the Eurasian plates, which has shaped the present-day geometry of the Oman Mountains. The outcrops of interest are carbonate formations (e.g. Natih and Shuaiba), which are important reservoirs for Oman.

The main objectives of the excursion will be two-folds. First, we aim to observe faults and fractures corridors in carbonates, with a strong focus on geometry, timing of development, impact of mechanical stratigraphy. We will make outcrop observations both in sections and on pavements. We will link the observations to the known regional phases of deformations. We also want to link the understanding of their development and the geometries observed to the strategy we would used to capture them in sub-surface models. We hope to have a mix of discipline experts on the field trip in order to have integrated discussions. Secondly, participants will experience collaborative virtual geology from the same outcrop utilizing state of the art 3D visualization tools. This provides an opportunity to trial the added value of virtual field trips after having seen the real fractured rocks in the field. 

This enables participants to better handle both field work and analysis. In the field, we will observe a complex structural pattern of faults (e.g. normal faults, transtensional faults, grabens) and natural fractures (e.g. layer bound fractures and fracture corridors) that deformed the carbonates. Along the day, we will switch from large-scale faults down to small fractures. In combination with the virtual field, we will understand their 3D geometry and imbrication, the relations to the mechanical stratigraphy and the timing of deformation. Participants will appreciate how field and virtual geology help to up-scale when creating reservoir-size geological models.


             Fracture pavement                                                                          Small scale fracture corridor on pavement


The outcrops are located only a 2 ½ hours drive away from the workshop venue. Safe transportation is assured by high standard 4 wheel vehicles with professional, experienced and well trained drivers from the Omani tour organizer Shuram. The field trip will consist of a ~3 km long hike, with several stops. We will have lunch half way through the day in the middle of the Jebel (note, you will not need to carry your lunch). On each location, we will have plenty of time for observations, exercises, and numerous discussions. We look forward to your active contribution in the field!

Importantly, temperatures in Oman in October are expected to be mild for the country. However, the hike will be on rocky terrain and in the sun. It will be important to wear adequate clothing and footwear and to be in good physical conditions.

The virtual field trip will be performed through the VR-Explorer software, from the company VR2Planets. VR-Explorer is a VR software enabling geologists to practice field structural geology and analysis in the virtual scene. The software will be provided to the participants ahead of the workshop, and you will be invited to an immersive pre-field trip in September. You will explore the virtual outcrops with VR headsets for a full immersion view, and keyboard & mouse for a screen view depending on the equipment at your work place. Participants will meet virtually in Jebel Madar from their respective locations. We will introduce the field trip but also share other impressive locations on the djebel, that are otherwise impossible to visit in a single day physical field trip. The software also enables participants to revisit the outcrops at their own pace before the workshop as well as during the workshop. 

Pavement and section observations (picture from Drone survey, KAUST)

The field trip report was published on First Break April Edition, you can view it here.