Sandstone injectites ranging from <30 m to >1 km in outcrop length intrude the Cretaceous Mowry Formation in the vicinity of Sheep Mountain anticline (Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, USA). These injectites were sourced from the Peay Sandstone Member of the overlying Cretaceous Frontier Formation and represent a significant possible fluid pathway through impermeable shales. Sand injection occurred along dikes and sills, interacting with bedding discontinuities and preexisting joints in the Mowry Formation during the early folding of Sheep Mountain anticline. We argue that, in contrast to the passive sweeping of sediments into fissures characteristic of Neptunian dike formation, downward intrusion of the Peay sand was forceful and made possible by a highly stratified horizontal stress field resulting from the deposition, burial, and lithification history of the rock units in the area.
The internal structure of the injectites is dominated by two sets of mutually offsetting deformation bands. The deformation bands have shear and compaction components, exhibiting significant porosity loss, as well as cataclasis and minor pressure solution. After formation of the deformation bands, subsequent faulting was localized along the margins of deformation bands, evidenced in the field by slickensided surfaces. A detailed kinematic analysis of slickenline lineations yields shortening and extension axes consistent with deformation band formation during early Laramide–oriented shortening, and continuing through the folding of Sheep Mountain anticline. Beyond the formation and deformation of these sandstone injectites, this study highlights the importance of mechanical stratigraphy in the containment of hydraulic fractures.
- Received 25 April 2016.
- Revision received 20 July 2016.
- Accepted 17 August 2016.
- ©The Authors
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