ABSTRACT

Modern oil and gas seismic surveys commonly use areal arrays that record continuously, and thus routinely collect “excess” data that are not needed for the conventional common reflection point imaging that is the primary goal of exploration. These excess data have recently been recognized to have utility not only in resource exploration but also for addressing a diverse range of scientific issues.

Here we report processing of such discarded data from recent exploration surveys carried out in southeastern New Mexico. These have been used to produce new three-dimensional (3-D) seismic reflection imagery of a layered complex within the crystalline basement as well as elements of the underlying crust. This enigmatic basement layering is similar to that found on industry and academic seismic reflection surveys at many sites in the central United States. Correlation of these reflectors with similar features encountered by drilling in northwestern Texas suggest that they may be part of an extensive, continental-scale network of tabular mafic intrusions linked to Keweenawan rifting of the igneous eastcentral Unites States during the late Proterozoic. More importantly, this analysis clearly demonstrates that the new generation of continuously recorded 3-D exploration datasets represent a valuable source of fresh information on basement structure that should be examined rather than discarded. Such basement information is not only important to understanding crustal evolution, it is directly relevant to assessing risks associated with fossil fuel extractions, such as induced seismicity related to waste water injection.

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