High-resolution seismic reflection surveys document tectonic faults that displace Pleistocene and older strata just beyond the northeast termination of the New Madrid seismic zone, at the northernmost extent of the Mississippi embayment. These faults, which are part of the Fluorspar Area fault complex in southeastern Illinois, are directly in line with the northeast-trending seismic zone. The reflection data were acquired using an elastic weight-drop source recorded to 500 msec by a 48-geophone array (24-fold) with a 10-ft (??3.0m) station interval. Recognizable reflections were recorded to about 200 msec (100-150 m). The effects of multiple reflections, numerous diffractions, low apparent velocity (i.e., steeply dipping) noise, and the relatively low-frequency content of the recorded signal provided challenges for data processing and interpreting subtle fault offsets. Data processing steps that were critical to the detection of faults included residual statics, post-stack migration, deconvolution, and noise-reduction filtering. Seismic migration was crucial for detecting and mitigating complex fault-related diffraction patterns, which produced an apparent 'folding' of reflectors on unmigrated sections. Detected individual offsets of shallow reflectors range from 5 to 10 m for the top of Paleozoic bedrock and younger strata. The migrated sections generally indicate vertical to steeply dipping normal and reverse faults, which in places outline small horsts and/or grabens. Tilting or folding of stratal reflectors associated with faulting is also locally observed. At one site, the observed faulting is superimposed over a prominent antiformal structure, which may itself be a product of the Quaternary deformation that produced the steep normal and reverse faults. Our results suggest that faulting of the Paleozoic bedrock and younger sediments of the northern Mississippi embayment is more pervasive and less localized than previously thought.
Additional publication details
Seismic reflection images of shallow faulting, northernmost Mississippi embayment, north of the New Madrid seismic zone