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Integrated Regional Geophysical Analysis of the Deep Structural Framework of the Permian Basin


Exploration in the Permian Basin has produced a wealth of information about its structure and petroleum resources. However, recent discoveries in the western portion of the basin, in particular the Alpine High, are a reminder that we still have much to learn about its deep structure and tectonic history. In this study, regional geophysical and geological data, deep drilling results, and 2-D regional models of the deep structure that are constrained by all available geological and geophysical data are employed to elucidate deep structures in a variety of key areas. One of our goals is to relate deep basin and basement features associated with the Alpine High area with the regional context of the western Delaware Basin structure and features within the Precambrian basement. Regionally, significant deep structural and tectonic features of the Permian include gravity highs associated with a Late Mesoproterozoic mafic intrusion at the core of the Central Basin Platform (CBP) as revealed by the #1 Nellie well and by large isolated gravity and magnetic highs in the northern Midland Basin, in the Matador Arch region. The CBP is associated with a linear gravity high as expected. However, but the gravity high is interrupted by the Early Mesoproterozoic Abilene gravity minimum, which is due to a granitic batholith-sized feature that floors much the Midland and Central Delaware Basins. The southwestern margin of the Delaware Basin, where the Alpine High is located, is complicated in gravity and magnetic maps. However, it appears to be associated with an east-west trending series of high, paired gravity and magnetic anomalies that may be created by intrusions associated with the trace of the Grenville tectonic front or earlier Grenville extension. The area is associated with the present day structural divide between the Delaware and Marfa basins. Cenozoic tectonic activity may also affect this area. The Ouachita orogenic belt to the south follows a regional gravity high and provides structural complexity in the deep structure of the southernmost Permian Basin.