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Towards a Better Understanding of Surface Deformation in Houston, Texas

Xu Han
University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77054

Recent reports from local residents in the Woodlands area claimed damages on their property due to faulting that has become more evident during the last three years. The damages and the rapid rate of the fault movements portray the necessity of further study of the faults in this area. Based on previous geological information and studies, the active fault running across the Carlton Woods subdivision in the Woodlands, Texas is a part of the Big Barn Fault. This active fault is a northeastern-most segment of the Hockley-Conroe Fault System which is the main focus of this study, that contains several faults trending from southwest to northeast between Hockley and Conroe, Texas. Faulting in the Houston area is related to the development of the Gulf of Mexico, its sedimentary history, and the movement of salt domes in the area, as well as anthropogenic reasons like groundwater and petroleum withdrawal. In order to pinpoint the main cause behind the increased displacement of the fault system, this study will map out different segments of the Big Barn Fault using LIDAR and measure the movement along the fault utilizing Global Positioning System (GPS) and remote sensing data. Ground- Penetrating Radar (GPR) and shallow reflection seismology will also be used to probe the fault in the subsurface. These methods face different limitations and resolutions, but the integrated interpretation of all the geophysical data will provide an accurate image of the faults, which will provide a better understanding of the Hockley Fault System’s movement.

 

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90158©2012 GCAGS and GC-SEPM 6nd Annual Convention, Austin, Texas, 21-24 October 2012