Active Stress Field in the Texas Panhandle

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Budnik, Roy T.

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The south-central and southwestern United States can be divided into three distinct provinces based on the present distribution of stress: (1) Midcontinent, (2) southern Great Plains, and (3) Basin and Range (fig. 1; Zoback and Zoback, 1980). The Midcontinent province, a tectonically stable region extending from the Appalachians to the Texas Panhandle, is undergoing compressive stress in a NE-SW direction. The Basin and Range province, which includes the area from the Rio Grande Rift in central New Mexico to California and Oregon, is defined by active extension in a WNW-ESE direction. The southern Great Plains province is characterized by NE-SW extension. The Palo Duro Basin lies near the boundary between the southern Great Plains and Midcontinent provinces (fig. 1). The present distribution of stress within the southern Great Plains province was defined by Zoback and Zoback (1980) on the basis of the NW-SE alignment of Late Cenozoic volcanic centers in northeastern New Mexico and fracture orientations in hydraulically fractured wells in the Permian Basin (fig. 2; Table 1). The orientation of stress in the southwestern part of the Midcontinent province is based on the hydraulic fracturing of a single well in the Anadarko Basin (fig. 2; Table 1). Zoback and Zoback (1980) could not define the location of the boundary between the southern Great Plains and the Midcontinent provinces because of a lack of data in the Texas Panhandle.


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