The routine application of digital survey technologies such as terrestrial lidar and photogrammetry to the characterization of fault and fractures in outcrop over the past decade has resulted in major advances in terms of the efficiency of discontinuity data acquisition. However, the reliance upon mesh- and point-cloud–based analysis approaches means that data sets obtained from these sources commonly offer heavily abstracted views of the measured fracture network due to the limited resolution of the input model. Here, we present an alternative approach that combines conventional two-dimensional (2D) image analysis with ray-tracing techniques to extract three-dimensional (3D) fracture trace maps from photogrammetrically calibrated image sequences. These 3D trace objects may be interrogated to obtain fracture network properties (trace length, intensity, and connectivity), with probabilistic methods used to estimate fracture orientation for high collinearity traces.
Our approach possesses a number of advantages over existing digital surface reconstruction-based methods, with the use of a 2D pixel-based approach allowing established image-processing routines (e.g., edge detection/connected components analysis) to be applied to the characterization of fracture and fault properties. Moreover, the innately high resolution of the input images results in practically lossless 3D fracture trace representation, limiting truncation effects. As a result, the method is capable of resolving local variability in higher-order fracture properties such as fracture intensity, which are difficult to derive using existing approaches. We demonstrate the approach on pervasively faulted Permian age exposures of the Vale of Eden Basin, UK.
- Received 28 September 2015.
- Revision received 27 February 2016.
- Accepted 6 May 2016.
- ©The Authors
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