World-class training for the modern energy industry

Trap and Seal Analysis: Theory and Application (G090)

  • TypeType: Classroom
  • TypeDiscipline: Structural Geology
  • TypeDuration: 4 days


Russell K. Davies: Redlands Fault Geological Consulting LLC


This course introduces the concepts and methods in trap and seal analysis, particularly in relation to fault characterization, including fault mapping and fault seal, as applied to cross-fault flow resistance in traps for hydrocarbons and/or CO2. In addition, the concepts of caprock analysis are introduced for an integrated trap and seal analysis in subsurface reservoirs. The lectures introduce fundamentals and advanced concepts for faulting and flow for the prediction of fault behavior in subsurface traps and the concepts discussed are applied in simple exercises to reinforce learning.

Duration and Logistics

Classroom version: A 4-day classroom course, comprising a mix of lectures (65%) and hands-on exercises (35%). The manual will be provided in digital format and participants will be required to bring a laptop or tablet computer to follow the lectures and exercises.

Virtual version: Five 4-hour interactive online sessions presented over five days (mornings in North America and afternoons in Europe). Digital course notes and exercise materials will be distributed to participants before the course. Some exercises may be completed by participants off-line.

Level and Audience

Intermediate. The course is intended for geoscientists (geologists and geophysicists) and petroleum engineers, so they can apply these principles in their subsurface projects.


You will learn to:

  1. Analyze fault geometries and architecture, apply this knowledge to make robust fault interpretations.
  2. Assess fault rock types and properties and likely impacts on fluid flow across and along faults.
  3. Conduct juxtaposition seal analysis and employ triangle diagrams.
  4. Apply algorithms, such as SGR and CSF, for predicting clay contents across faults.
  5. Assess the relationship between threshold pressure and fault seal capacity against the clay content predicted across fault surfaces.
  6. Characterize faults as potential migration and leakage pathways.
  7. Evaluate the geomechanical and capillary properties of top seal units.

Course Content

The course is divided into ten topics:

  1. Introduction to fault mapping and trap and seal characterization
  2. Fault geometry mapping and fault zone architecture
    • Introduction to fundamental characteristics of fault geometry, fault linkage and fault throw distribution, and development of fault zones and fault rock
    • Interpretation techniques and pitfalls
  3. Fault Rock Properties
    • Different fault rock types are discussed with examples showing differences in mechanical and chemical deformation that may impact fluid flow
    • Description and deformation mechanisms
    • Flow properties of faults
      • permeability, porosity and threshold pressure
  4. Flow Basics
    • A theoretical interlude to introduce the basic concepts on flow through porous media, including capillary and permeability controls
    • Permeability and Darcy’s Law
    • Capillarity threshold pressure
      • wettability
      • interfacial tension
    • Relative permeability
  5. Fault Mapping
    • Juxtaposition seal
    • Fault rock seal
      • Shale Gouge Ratio (SGR)
      • Clay Smear Factor (CSF)
      • Effective Shale Gouge Ratio (ESGR)
    • Relationship between threshold pressure, permeability and clay content
    • Relationship between threshold pressure and sealing capacity of faults
  6. Triangle Diagrams
    • A quick and efficient method to evaluate the sealing capacity of faults based on modeled stratigraphy from well logs or derived from the expected depositional setting
    • Evaluating the clay distributions related to threshold pressure and permeability provides the information for the seal risk of faults
  7. Faults in simulation
    • Review and methods of fault rock properties in reservoir flow simulation
  8. Geomechanics as applied to up-fault flow risks
    • Faults as migration routes and paths
    • Fault reactivation and along fault flow risks
  9. Fundamentals of top seal (caprock) analysis
    • Mechanical and capillary controls
  10. Validation, Risk and Uncertainty
    • A discussion of validating the fault seal from available behavior and discussion of associated risks and uncertainty


The course can be adjusted for a CO2 focus. It can also be modified to include an additional day for the participants to learn the basic functionality of the Structural and Fault Analysis Module in Petrel. This option will require licenses of Petrel and the Structural and Fault Analysis Module from SLB. An additional day could also be included as a workshop for the client to bring in proprietary data and trap and seal issues to discuss potential solutions.


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