Shallow Seismic Studies of an Ephemeral Lake (Playa A) Basin on the Southern High Plains, Texas Panhandle

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1993

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Shallow seismic data collected at Sevenmile Basin, a large ephemeral lake (playa) basin in the Texas Panhandle, reveal that subsidence has been an important agent in the formation of the basin. Several hypotheses have been considered for the origin of thousands of playa basins on the Southern High Plains of Texas and New Mexico, including eolian deflation, evaporite or carbonate dissolution and subsidence, piping, and animal activity. Seismic methods, adapted to investigations in the shallow subsurface (200 m or less), provide data that indicate subsidence caused by evaporite dissolution is the most important of these mechanisms at Sevenmile Basin.

Sevenmile Basin is 5.5 by 3.6 km across and 14 m deep and is inset into the Quaternary Blackwater Draw Formation. The Blackwater Draw overlies the upper Tertiary Ogallala Formation, which hosts the economically important Ogallala aquifer. Shallow seismic refraction and reflection data were collected from this unconsolidated and variably saturated elastic sequence to understand the physical properties, geological history, and hydrogeological framework of playa basins, which are the principal recharge areas for the Ogallala aquifer.

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