Tectonic History and Regional Tectonic Framework of the Palo Duro Basin, Texas Panhandle

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The Palo Duro Basin, a broad structural low in the southern Texas Panhandle, has had a long history of episodic deformation, beginning in the Precambrian. During the middle Proterozoic, the basin was the site of accumulation of more than 30,000 ft (9,100 m) of rhyolite flows and related rocks. The establishment of the northwest-trending structural grain of the area possibly occurred at this time. The presence of pre-upper Cambrian arkosic elastics within the basin suggests active faulting during the late Proterozoic to earliest Cambrian. The southern Panhandle was occupied by a carbonate shelf in the early Ordovician and again in the Mississippian. Sedimentation was probably nearly continuous from the early Ordovician to the early Devonian; however, rocks of this age eroded from the central part of the Palo Duro Basin as a result of the uplift of the northwest-trending Texas Arch during the middle Devonian. The southern midcontinent underwent major deformation during the Pennsylvanian Ancestral Rocky Mountain orogeny, when the southern Panhandle became the site of a distinct depositional basin. Approximately 75 mi (120 km) of left-lateral strike-slip movement occurred along the Amarillo-Wichita Uplift during this time. The axis of subsidence, associated with the formation of the larger Permian Basin, shifted progressively westward during Permian deposition. Renewed subsidence in the late Triassic formed a large lacustrine basin that extended southward from the Palo Duro Basin. During the Cenozoic, basement structures were reactivated, as reflected in the depositional patterns of the upper Miocene to lower Pliocene Ogallala Formation.


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