Sedimentary stylolite networks and connectivity in limestone: Large-scale field observations and implications for structure evolution

L. Laronne Ben-Itzhak, E. Aharonov, Z. Karcz, M. Kaduri, R. Toussaint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stylolites are rough surfaces, formed by localized rock dissolution, and prevalent in carbonates and other sedimentary rocks. Their impact on porosity and permeability, and capacity to accommodate compactive strain, are well documented. This paper presents a meso-scale field study on sedimentary stylolites in carbonates, characterizing large-scale distributions of stylolites, including measurements conducted on longer than kilometer-long stylolites. Our field study suggests that on large scales connections between stylolites become important. Since connectivity, and also lack of connectivity, are expected to play a significant role in strain accommodation and hydraulic rock properties, we suggest that large-scale analysis may require a new characterization scheme for "stylolite populations", based on their connectivity. We therefore divide sedimentary stylolite populations into three end-member types, which are correlated with the three possibilities for percolation of such systems: isolated stylolites (with zero percolation/connectivity), long-parallel stylolites (with 2-dimensional percolation/connectivity), and interconnected stylolite networks (with 3-dimensional percolation/connectivity). New statistical parameters and measures are devised and used to quantitatively characterize the different population types. Schematic mechanistic models are then offered to explain the evolution of the three end-member connectivity-classes. In addition we discuss the effect on fluid flow of the different population types.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)106-123
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Basin evolution
  • Permeability
  • Pressure solution
  • Strain partitioning
  • Stylolites

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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