We have applied a previously developed analytical stress model to interpret subsurface stress conditions inferred from acoustic televiewer logs obtained in two municipal water wells located in a valley in the southern Davis Mountains near Alpine, Texas. The appearance of stress-induced breakouts with orientations that shift by 90?? at two different depths in one of the wells is explained by results from exact solutions for the effects of valleys on gravity and tectonically induced subsurface stresses. The theoretical results demonstrate that above a reference depth termed the hinge point, a location that is dependent on Poisson's ratio, valley shape, and magnitude of the maximum horizontal tectonic stress normal to the long axis of the valley, horizontal stresses parallel to the valley axis are greater than those normal to it. At depths below this hinge point the situation reverses and horizontal stresses normal to the valley axis are greater than those parallel to it. Application of the theoretical model at Alpine is accommodated by the fact that nearby earthquake focal mechanisms establish an extensional stress regime with the regional maximum horizontal principal stress aligned perpendicular to the valley axis. We conclude that the localized stress field associated with a valley setting can be highly variable and that breakouts need to be examined in this context when estimating the orientations and magnitudes of regional principal stresses.
Additional publication details
Topographic stress perturbations in southern Davis Mountains, west Texas 1. Polarity reversal of principal stresses