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Fracking New York Faults

Fracking New York Faults

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Fracking New York's Faults
Fracking New York's Faults

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: James "Chip" Northrup on Feb 13, 2012
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Basement faults and seismicity in the Appalachian Basin of  New York State
Robert D. Jacobi*
UB Rock Fracture Group, Geology Department, University of Buffalo, The State University of New York, 876 NSC, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA
Received 12 November 2001; accepted 26 April 2002
Landsat lineaments identified by Earth Satellite Corporation (EARTHSAT, 1997) can be groundtruthed across theAppalachian Basin of New York State (NYS). Both fracture intensification domains (FIDs) and faults are observed in outcropalong the lineaments. Confirmation of deep structure associated with the surface structure is provided by both well log analysesand seismic reflection data (primarily proprietary). Additional faults are proposed by comparing the lineament locations withgravity and magnetic data. The result is a web of basement faults that crisscross New York State. By overlaying epicenter locations on the fault/lineament maps, it is possible to observe the spatial correlation between seismic events and the faults.Every seismic event in the Appalachian Basin portion of NYS lies on or near a known or suspected fault. It thus appears that not only are there more faults than previously suspected in NYS, but also, many of these faults are seismically active.
2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Faults; Seismicity; Appalachian Basin; New York State
1. Introduction
The Appalachian Basin of New York State (NYS)has been regarded as generally structurally featurelessexcept for a few well-acknowledged faults. For exam- ple, the NYS Geological Map(Rickard and Fisher,1970)displayed only two sets of faults in the Appa-lachian Basin over a 450-km distance between Albanyand Buffalo(Fig. 1): (1) N-trending faults in theMohawk Valley region that were believed to beOrdovician in age (e.g.,Bradley and Kidd, 1991)and (2) several E- and N-striking short faults in theFinger Lakes region (central NYS). Other faultsrecognized in NYS include (from west to east,Fig.1): (1) the Bass Island Trend (e.g.,Van Tyne andFoster, 1979; Beinkafner, 1983), (2) the Clarendon– Linden Fault System (CLF; e.g.,Chadwick, 1920;Van Tyne, 1975; Fakundiny et al., 1978; Jacobi andFountain, 1993, 1996, 2002), (3) an Ordovician-aged, N-striking, normal fault east of the CLF(Rickard,1973), (4) NNE-striking normal faults at Keuka Lake(Murphy, 1981), (5) Alleghanian folds, thrusts/normalfaults, and tear faults in the Southern Tier of NYS(Bradley et al., 1941; Murphy, 1981), and (5) threeOrdovician-aged horsts and graben with assumed N-strikes in central NYS(Rickard, 1973). Thus, lessthan 10 fault systems had been identified across a450-km swath in the Appalachian Basin of NYS, and
0040-1951/02/$ - see front matter 
2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.PII: S0040-1951(02)00278-0
Fax: +1-716-645-3999.
 E-mail address:
rdjacobi@acsu.buffalo.edu (R.D. Jacobi).www.elsevier.com/locate/tectoTectonophysics 353 (2002) 75–113
 R.D. Jacobi / Tectonophysics 353 (2002) 75–113
only one of these, the CLF, was regularly acknow-ledged. There were indications that this low number of faults might not be a true representation, based onthe lineaments recognized byIsachsen and McKen-dree (1977), but the standard belief was that essen-tially little faulting characterized the AppalachianBasin of NYS. Nevertheless, the northern tier of theAppalachian Basin in NYS did exhibit sporadic seis-micity(Fig. 1). The question then becomes: are theseseismic events associated with faults that have not  been recognized, or are the seismic events essentiallyspatially random, with no predictive structural con-trol?In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several studies innearby regions of assumed flat-lying units began todemonstrate that basement faults did exist in muchgreater numbers than previously suspected, and that these faults had been repeatedly reactivated. For exam- ple, in the Illinois Basin and bordering areas, faults that  penetrate the Precambrian basement appeared to have been active for much of the geological record that can be observed (e.g.,Kolata and Nelson, 1991; Nelsonand Marshak, 1996). In eastern Ohio, the NW-strikingHighlandtown Fault experienced episodic motion fromCambrian to Pennsylvanian(Root, 1992; Riley et al.,1993; Root and Onasch, 1999), and may follow Precambrian fault (Root and Onasch, 1999). Other faults in Ohio (e.g., the N-striking Bowling GreenFault) also show a long-lived, complex fault motionhistory (e.g.,Onasch and Kahle, 1991). In Pennsylva-nia, NW-striking structures that are orthogonal to theAppalachian orogen [‘‘cross-strike discontinuities’(CSDs)] are assumed to be Precambrian faults that were reactivated in the Phanerozoic (e.g.,Harper,1989). These CSDs were the continental extension of transform faults during Iapetan rifting; later, theyexerted control on sedimentation patterns, and theCSDs completed their Paleozoic history as guides for tear faults during the development of Alleghanianthrusting (e.g.,Kowalik and Gold, 1976; Shumaker and Wilson, 1996; Gold, 1999). In northwestern Penn-sylvania, NW-striking CSDs were proposed to inter-sect Cambrian Rome Trough faults, resulting in kaleidoscope of fault blocks that have reactivatedepisodically (e.g.,Harper, 1989; Riley et al., 1993;Beardsley et al., 1999; Harper et al. 1999). A similar scenario offault blocks was proposed for western NYS(Fakundiny et al., 1978).Sanford et al. (1985)also  proposed that the Paleozoic Platform rocks in Ontariowere chopped by numerous faults. More recent work in Ontario has supported their original premise of multiple faults and faulting events (e.g.,Sanford,1993; Eyles et al., 1993; Thomas et al., 1993; Mohajer,1993; Wallach et al., 1998). In 1989,Jacobi andFountain (1996, 2002)began detailed multidiscipli-nary investigations on the CLF in western NYS. Theytoo found evidence for multiple faults with a longhistory of semi-independent fault motion through theearly Paleozoic (e.g.,Jacobi and Fountain, 1993, 1996,2002).Part of the CLF multidisciplinary approach devel-oped byJacobi and Fountain (1996)was the identi-fication of fracture intensification domains (FIDs; e.g.,Jacobi and Xu, 1998; Jacobi and Fountain, 2001,2002). The FIDs are characterized by closely spacedfractures, the strike of which defines the trend of theFID. The closely spaced fractures are also commonlythe master fractures, even though they may character-istically abut other fracture sets in regions outside theFID. In interbedded shales and thin sandstones in NYS, fractures within the FID that parallel the FIDcharacteristically have a fracture frequency greater than 2/m, and commonly the frequency is an order of magnitude greater than in the region surroundingthe FID.Certain sets of FIDs are marked by soil gasanomalies commonly less than 50 m wide(Jacobiand Fountain, 1993, 1996; Fountain and Jacobi,
Fig. 1. Index map with seismic events. Shaded areas indicate where the UB Rock Fracture Group has conducted research. 1=unpublished data;2=Jacobi and Baudo (1999),Baudo and Jacobi (1999, 2000); 3=Tober and Jacobi (2000); 4=Jacobi and Fountain (1993, 1996, this volume); 5=Harper and Jacobi (2000); 6=unpublished data (Akzo–Nobel Salt); 7=Paquette et al. (1998); 8=Lugert et al. (2001, 2002),Jacobi et al. (2002b); 9=Jacobi (1981),Jacobi et al. (1996);Jacobi and Mitchell (2002); 10=Jacobi and Smith (2000). CLF=Clarendon–Linden Fault  System, generalized fault trace fromVan Tyne (1975). Bass Island Trend trace modified fromVan Tyne and Foster (1979). Remainder of the faults (with hachures) are faults (after Rickard, 1973) that were assumed to be Ordovician-aged [Saukian Sequence of Rickard (1973)]. For  faults in the Mohawk Valley, D=Dolgeville Fault; E=Ephrata Fault; HE=Herkimer Fault; LF=Little Falls Fault; MC=Mothers Creek Fault; N=Noses Fault; P=Prospect Fault; S=Sprakers Fault. Epicenters are fromJacobi and Fountain (1996). Labeled epicenters are discussed inthe text.
 R.D. Jacobi / Tectonophysics 353 (2002) 75–113

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