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Open Access Multiphase fossil normal faults as geothermal exploration targets in the Western Bavarian Molasse Basin: Case study Mauerstetten

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The Bavarian Molasse Basin represents a peripheral foreland basin hosting abundant hydrothermal resources in 3–5 km deep Upper Jurassic carbonate rocks. Faults and facies play a major role in targeting production wells; however the kinematic evolution of fault zones and the classification of carbonate facies of the Upper Jurassic are still debated. At the geothermal prospect Mauerstetten in the Western Bavarian Molasse Basin, a geothermal well and a side track are drilled along and about 650 m off an ENE–WSW striking normal fault. A stratigraphy related fault throw analysis of six 2D seismic sections crossing this fault evidences multiphase normal faulting from Cretaceous to Upper Miocene with a major activity phase in the Oligocene. This fault, inactive since Upper Miocene, is presumably a fossil normal fault in the present-day stress field that has a maximum horizontal stress direction in N–S. Analysis of carbonate facies by thin section petrography of drill cuttings and geophysical borehole logs lead to two major conclusions: (i) the reservoir rock represents low permeable platform limestones, reef detritus and dolostones of the Franconian facies, and (ii) the fault consists of multiple normal fault- ing steps with higher permeability than in intact rock. This observation suggests a fracture controlled reservoir with perme- able damage zones in a tight rock mass along reactivated normal faults.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2018

This article was made available online on September 4, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Multiphase fossil normal faults as geothermal exploration targets in the Western Bavarian Molasse Basin: Case study Mauerstetten".

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  • Zeitschrift der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften (ZDGG) is an international peer reviewed journal that accepts papers on research and applied topics in the Earth Sciences. It is published online and in print. One volume, consisting of four issues is published annually. The journal has been published by the German Geological Society since its foundation in 1848. It was relaunched in 2005.

    ZDGG invites the submission of English, German and French language papers from all fields of geology, hydrogeology, paleontology, tectonics, sedimentology, engineering geology and of course environmental geology to name a few. The editors of ZDGG also invite suggestions for thematic issues.

    Please note that ZDGG issues from Volume 170 are now available from the publisher's website at
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