SF part I: Disagreeing on a structural framework

In the beginning… we agreed on very little. Some partners of GeoConnect³d didn’t pay too much attention to some other partners that were claiming that a structural framework would make a big difference. After all, a structural framework is nothing new, it is just looking with enough dedication at the structures of a geological model. And that is also what most of the reviewers seemed to think. It nearly cost us the funding.

So why did we emphasize in the proposal that using an existing concept would be innovative? Probably just because geoconnectors are somewhat simple and honest soles, writing down in a proposal what they want to do, without giving much regard to how credible it all will look.

But that does not mean that they haven’t thought things through. So, let’s look again, to see if indeed a structural framework never has been used to its full potential.

A well known framework: metallic spheres and tubes tied together make up the Atomium, a landmark of Brussels.

The cheapest way of looking at a structural framework, is to regard it as a bunch of faults. Undress your maps until only the faults are left, and you have your set of structures… I’m making this sound very simple, and maybe a little stupid, but I’ve got good friends in the HIKE project, so I shouldn’t be doing that. No, it really is very useful to look just at faults, as they need to be understood and inventoried to foresee things such as seismic risk.

But a set of faults is not a structural framework. A framework is something that is tied together. Most frameworks that man constructs are metallic, but what they actually have in common is that all pieces are welded together. A pile of metallic rods will never be a framework, no matter how high you make it. That is why also the elements of a structural framework need to be tied together in a meaningful way as well.

In the more traditional, usually smaller scaled examples such as reservoir models, this is done following principles of structural geology. These describe how faults are related, how the different orientations can be produced in one single deformation, often by one set of faults forming in reaction to deformation along an earlier fault. Looking at a fault model with that level of understanding gives it meaning, allows one to judge effect and importance, and for example predict which faults would be active, inactive, or more likely to be permeable.

That is a traditional structural framework: a dedicated way of looking at faults as particular elements of a geological model, in order to increase the understanding of the role and importance of the different structures, and with that improve the overall value and accuracy of the geological model.

And now GeoConnect³d wants to take that a big step further. Hopefully you are still with us, because this is where the discussion among partners really begins.

Kris Piessens
Geological Survey of Belgium (GSB)

Click here to read the second part of the series.

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