Fracture Analyses of the Palo Duro Basin Area, Texas Panhandle and Eastern New Mexico

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Fracture analyses of the Palo Duro Basin area, Texas Panhandle, and Eastern New Mexico provide clues to the structural history of the area and help to determine the occurrence and characteristics of the fractures and veins in strata of this region.

Fractures are associated with folds and faults that occur along the margins of the basin as well as in relatively undeformed strata within the central basin area. Along the Amarillo Uplift, the strikes of fractures in Permian and Triassic rocks are different from fracture orientations in overlying Tertiary strata. Fracture orientations determined by fracture identification logs from wells in Deaf Smith and Swisher Counties indicate similar fracture strikes in Pennsylvanian and Permian strata within the basin. Throughout the region, fractures that strike east-west (275°-295°) and northwest-southeast (305°-320°) are the most common. Zones of closely spaced fractures occur in outcropping Permian and Triassic strata. The width of the joint zones may be as great as 40 m, and the zones may extend laterally for distances of up to 0.75 km or possibly farther.

Gypsum veins are common in strata that have undergone collapse following salt dissolution, whereas halite veins commonly cut salt-bearing strata. Even though a subpolygonal pattern on bedding planes suggests a synsedimentary origin for some of the halite veins, a variety of cross-cutting relationships also indicate post-compactional origins for many of the halite veins.


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