Relationship between deformation bands and petroleum migration in an exhumed reservoir rock, Los Angeles Basin, California, USA

James C. Sample, S. Woods, E. Bender, M. Loveall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


An oil-bearing sandstone unit within the Monterey Formation is exposed in the Los Angeles Basin along thefault zone in southern California. The unit preserves structures, some original fluids, and cements that record the local history of deformation, fluid flow, and cementation. The structures include two types of deformation bands, which are cut by later bitumen veins and sandstone dikes. he bands formed by dilation and by shear. Both types strike on average parallel to the Newport-Inglewood fault zone (317°-332°) and show variable dip angles and directions. Generally the older deformation bands are shallow, and the younger bands are steep. The earlier set includes a type of deformation band not previously described in other field examples. These are thin, planar zones of oil 1-2 mm thick sandwiched between parallel, arbonate cemented, positively weathering ribs. All other deformation bands appear to be oil-free. The undeformed sandstone matrix also contains some hydrocarbons. The oil-cored bands formed largely in opening mode, similar to dilation bands. The oil-cored bands differ from previously described dilation bands in the degree of carbonate cementation (up to 36% by volume) and in that some exhibit evidence for plane-parallel shear during formation. Given the mostly oil-free bands and oil-rich matrix, deformation bands must have formed largely before the bulk of petroleum migration and acted as emi-permeable baffles. Oil-cored bands provide field evidence for early migration of oil into a potential reservoir rock. We infer a hydrofracture mechanism, probably from petroleum leaking out of a stratigraphically lower overpressured reservoir. The deformation bands described here provide a potential field example of a mechanism inferred for petroleum migration in modern systems such as in the Gulf of Mexico.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-112
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Carbonate
  • Deformation band
  • Fluid flow
  • Monterey Formation
  • Petroleum
  • Strike-slip fault

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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