Near-Surface and High Resolution Seismic Imaging of the Bennett Thrust Fault in the Indio Mountains of West Texas

Alan Vennemann, University of Texas at El Paso


My research investigates the structure of the Indio Mountains in southwest Texas, 34 kilometers southwest of Van Horn, at the UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso) Field Station using newly acquired active-source seismic data. The area is underlain by deformed Cretaceous sedimentary rocks that represent a transgressive sequence nearly 2 km in total stratigraphic thickness. The rocks were deposited in mid Cretaceous extensional basins and later contracted into fold-thrust structures during Laramide orogenesis. The stratigraphic sequence is an analog for similar areas that are ideal for pre-salt petroleum reservoirs, such as reservoirs off the coasts of Brazil and Angola (Li, 2014; Fox, 2016; Kattah, 2017). The 1-km-long 2-D shallow seismic reflection survey that I planned and led during May 2016 was the first at the UTEP Field Station, providing critical subsurface information that was previously lacking. The data were processed with Landmark ProMAX seismic processing software to create a seismic reflection image of the Bennett Thrust Fault and additional imbricate faulting not expressed at the surface. Along the 1-km line, reflection data were recorded with 200 4.5 Hz geophones, using 100 150-gram explosive charges and 490 sledge-hammer blows for sources. A seismic reflection profile was produced using the lower frequency explosive dataset, which was used in the identification of the Bennett Thrust Fault and additional faulting and folding in the subsurface. This dataset provides three possible interpretations for the subsurface geometries of the faulting and folding present. However, producing a seismic reflection image with the higher frequency sledge-hammer sourced dataset for interpretation proved more challenging. While there are no petroleum plays in the Indio Mountains region, imaging and understanding subsurface structural and lithological geometries and how that geometry directs potential fluid flow has implications for other regions with petroleum plays.

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Recommended Citation

Vennemann, Alan, "Near-Surface and High Resolution Seismic Imaging of the Bennett Thrust Fault in the Indio Mountains of West Texas" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10686261.