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3D Structural and Kinematic Model of the Delaware Basin and Surrounding Structural Blocks for Application in Understanding Recent Seismicity

Abstract

The Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico is an important petroleum province with a complex tectonic history. This region has been shaped by several extensional and compressional deformation events since the Proterozoic. Each subsequent event is influenced by the accumulated tectonic fabric through fault reactivation and strain-transfer. These events have generated a complex network of regional faults whose footprints compartmentalize the Permian Basin spatially and impact the present-day stress state. Constraining the geologic controls that influence the regions stress state is vital when considering hazards related to seismicity, both induced and naturally occurring.

A new 3D structural framework of the Delaware Basin enables basin-scale fault characterization and identification of controlling fabrics. At a glance, the Delaware Basin is structurally compartmentalized by an E-W trending oblique-slip fault zone, known as the Grisham Fault (GF). Deformation south of the GF is dominated by NW and SE-trending compressive relay faults. Secondary features include potentially reactivated fault-propagation folds and smaller scaled oblique-slip fault zones. These oblique-slip fault zones have low vertical offset and are potential conduits for transpressional strain. North of the GF, deformation styles are more subdued, with larger-scaled features being broad uplift fault propagation folds and smaller-scaled features being oblique-slip shear zones. Structural contour and isopach maps of key stratigraphic units have been generated to evaluate the spatial and temporal growth of these structures. Regional fault trends are generally consistent with previous publications, however, fault traces have been modified to reflect 3D structural geometries observed in higher resolution datasets (e.g., 3D seismic volumes). Sub-regional fault segments are added to provide context for the complexity expected near regional structures and earthquake epicenters aid in identifying additional fault zones.

The results from this study have significant implications for assessing potential seismogenic risks in the Permian Basin. Understanding the orientation and complexity of these faults, compared to the region’s stress state, will enable improvements in operations and mitigate seismicity.