Interpretations of newly available seismic reflection profiles near the center of the Illinois Basin indicate that the Wabash Valley Fault System is rooted in a series of basement-penetrating faults. The fault system is composed predominantly of north-northeast-trending high-angle normal faults. The largest faults in the system bound the 22-km wide 40-km long Grayville Graben. Structure contour maps drawn on the base of the Mount Simon Sandstone (Cambrian System) and a deeper pre-Mount Simon horizon show dip-slip displacements totaling at least 600 meters across the New Harmony fault. In contrast to previous interpretations, the N-S extent of significant fault offsets is restricted to a region north of 38?? latitude and south of 38.35?? latitude. This suggests that the graben is not a NE extension of the structural complex composed of the Rough Creek Fault System and the Reelfoot Rift as previously interpreted. Structural complexity on the graben floor also decreases to the south. Structural trends north of 38?? latitude are offset laterally across several large faults, indicating strike-slip motions of 2 to 4 km. Some of the major faults are interpreted to penetrate to depths of 7 km or more. Correlation of these faults with steep potential field gradients suggests that the fault positions are controlled by major lithologic contacts within the basement and that the faults may extend into the depth range where earthquakes are generated, revealing a potential link between specific faults and recently observed low-level seismicity in the area.
Additional publication details
Seismic interpretation of the deep structure of the Wabash Valley Fault System