To better understand the mechanisms that control fluid flow and hydraulic conductivity at significant depth in the brittle crust, we have examined the relationship between fracture permeability and in situ stress in the German continental deep drillhole (the KTB main hole) through analysis of high resolution temperature profiles. Our analysis shows that over the entire 3 - 7 km depth range studied, permeable fractures and faults (i.e., those associated with distinct thermal anomalies) lie close to the Coulomb failure line for a coefficient of friction of about 0.6. This indicates that critically-stressed faults in the crust are also the most permeable faults. This includes a major Mesozoic thrust fault at 7.1 km that is being reactivated as a strike-slip fault in the current stress field. Conversely, non-critically stressed fractures and faults do not appear to be permeable as they are not associated with identifiable thermal anomalies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)