Results and interpretation of geophysical studies near the Picacho Fault, south-central Arizona

Open-File Report 78-1106

, , and



Earth fissuring attributed to ground-water withdrawal occurs throughout south-central Arizona. A large zone of active fissures is located near Picacho, Arizona on the eastern rim of a large subsidence bowl. The main fissure has been named the Picacho fault. During February and March 1977, approximately 6.5 km of seismic-refraction lines were run across the Picacho fault to investigate subsurface conditions down to the crystalline basement. In addition, two lines of close-spaced gravity stations were made across the fault. The gross geologic features inferred from the gravity data agree with the seismic interpretations. Six layers were interpreted from the seismic refraction data: three layers of unconsolidated alluvium, two of denser rock of varying porosity, and the basement rock. Three significant basement faults were identified. These faults appear to lie almost directly beneath the surface fissures. Abrupt slope changes in the alluvial layers and an abrupt velocity change in the denser compacted sediments seem to be related spatially to the surface fissures. In addition there are lateral velocity differences within the basement fault blocks. In the overlying sediments a facies change in a 3.0 km/sec layer is suggested by the abrupt lateral velocity increase from 3.0 km/sec to 3.7 km/sec. This apparent facies change may in fact represent a fault plane extending upwards from the westernmost basement fault. This fault plane may even extend farther into the unconsolidated overlying sediments, inferred from basinward increases in slope, subtle basinward decreases in velocity, and a basinward elevation decrease in the top of the zone of saturation.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Results and interpretation of geophysical studies near the Picacho Fault, south-central Arizona
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey,
ii, 17 leaves :ill., map ;29 cm.; (20 p. - PGS)