Abstract

A Mini-Sosie™ high-resolution seismic reflection survey was conducted on Reelfoot scarp in the northwestern Tennessee portion of the New Madrid seismic zone. Interpretation of the Mini-Sosie data revealed the need to reinterpret previously collected reflection data obtained from explosive source and Vibroseis® surveys. Interpretation and integration of the three data sets have resulted in a new model for the subsurface of Reelfoot scarp and provide evidence for recurrent movement along Reelfoot fault, the major reverse fault associated with Reelfoot scarp.

Estimated displacements on Reelfoot fault vary from 60 m (60 ms) for late Paleozoic rocks to 15 m (20 ms) for late Eocene sedimentary units. No clear offsets are observed on this particular fault for units younger than late Eocene age; however, uplift, folding, and related structures are observed in younger sediments. An observed variation of offset with depth (age) and the presence of the younger structures are evidence of reactivation of Reelfoot fault.

Small-offset (10 to 20 m) faults were also detected and have been interpreted to have constant displacement with depth, and therefore, to have occurred as a single faulting event rather than as recurrent movement on a fault plane. Two of these faults are interpreted to have been formed in the middle to late Eocene. A small reverse fault located a few hundred feet east of Reelfoot fault appears to be a single faulting event which extends into sediments of Holocene age.

There is a small displacement graben structure which probably extends into Holocene age sediments near the apex of the folded sediments of Reelfoot scarp. The location of the graben structure coincides with a zone of small-offset nomal faulting with 2 to 3 m of total offset within Holocene sediments observed in a trench excavated over Reelfoot scarp. This small zone of faulting has previously been interpreted to be of tectonic origin. The close association of the faults observed in the trench and the graben structure observed on the seismic data suggests that the two features are directly related, and that both structures were formed by Holocene-era reactivation of Reelfoot fault.

Additional evidence supporting our interpretation is provided by synthetic seismograms for models derived from the various data sets and paleosections of the high-resolution reflection data. A fault map based on all the reflection data shows that our interpretation is consistent with the data sets.

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