Seismic Imaging of a Shale Landscape Under Compression Shows Limited Influence of Topography-Induced Fracturing

Lisa Ma, David Oakley, Andrew Arnold Nyblade, Seulgi Moon, Natalie Accardo, Wei Wang, Xin Gu, Kristen Brubaker, Gregory J. Mount, Brandon Robert Forsythe, Bradley J. Carr, Susan L. Brantley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We used seismic refraction to image the P-wave velocity structure of a shale watershed experiencing regional compression in the Valley and Ridge Province (USA). From estimates showing strong compressional stress, we expected the depth to unweathered bedrock to mirror the hill-valley-hill topography (“bowtie pattern”) by analogy to seismic velocity patterns in crystalline bedrock in the North American Piedmont that also experience compression. Previous researchers used failure potentials calculated for strong compression in the Piedmont to suggest fractures are open deeper under hills than valleys to explain the “bowtie” pattern. Seismic images of the shale watershed, however, show little evidence of such a “bowtie.” Instead, they are consistent with weak (not strong) compression. This contradiction could be explained by the greater importance of infiltration-driven weathering than fracturing in determining seismic velocities in shale compared to crystalline bedrock, or to local perturbations of the regional stress field due to lithology or structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GL093372
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume48
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 16 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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