From the Guajira Desert to the Apennines, and from Mediterranean Microplates to the Mexican Killer Asteroid: Honoring the Career of Walter Alvarez
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
This volume pays tribute to the great career and extensive and varied scientific accomplishments of Walter Alvarez, on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 2020, with a series of papers related to the many topics he covered in the past 60 years: Tectonics of microplates, structural geology, paleomagnetics, Apennine sedimentary sequences, geoarchaeology and Roman volcanics, Big History, and most famously the discovery of evidence for a large asteroidal impact event at the Cretaceous–Tertiary (now Cretaceous–Paleogene) boundary site in Gubbio, Italy, 40 years ago, which started a debate about the connection between meteorite impact and mass extinction. The manuscripts in this special volume were written by many of Walter’s close collaborators and friends, who have worked with him over the years and participated in many projects he carried out. The papers highlight specific aspects of the research and/or provide a summary of the current advances in the field.
Seismic emissions reveal the mechanical stratigraphy of the Middle Paleozoic section under the Appalachian Plateau, Pennsylvania
Published:June 21, 2022
Terry Engelder*, Jan Vermilye, Alfred Lacazette, Peter Geiser, Charles Sicking, John N. Hooker, 2022. "Seismic emissions reveal the mechanical stratigraphy of the Middle Paleozoic section under the Appalachian Plateau, Pennsylvania", From the Guajira Desert to the Apennines, and from Mediterranean Microplates to the Mexican Killer Asteroid: Honoring the Career of Walter Alvarez, Christian Koeberl, Philippe Claeys, Alessandro Montanari
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The Middle Paleozoic section of the Appalachian Plateau exhibits a mechanical stratigraphy defined by layers that emit seismic energy with unique signatures in response to a strain energy accumulated on time scales associated with local, regional, and plate-scale processes. The Earth is in a state of frictional equilibrium, which means that even small changes in effective stress cause brittle failure and the concomitant release of ambient seismic energy. Stress changes as low as 0.001 MPa, the level of stress changes during Earth tides or the transmission of a fluid pressure wave, can activate failure on critically oriented fractures. These phenomena lead to a release of ambient seismic energy, which can be mapped using seismic emission tomography (SET) methods to image fracture networks emitting coherent seismic waves. We used a buried array of 54 sondes to identify active fracture networks over a contiguous volume of 3.76 km3 within Middle Paleozoic rocks hosting two Marcellus gas shale wells drilled under the Appalachian Plateau of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA. We sampled ambient seismic emissions before and after two stimulations and found that the pattern was repeatable. The fracture patterns illuminated by ambient seismic emissions defined a mechanical stratigraphy populated by clouds of seismic activity separated by packages of beds emitting relatively less seismic energy. The unique attribute of the beds emitting less seismic energy is a lower least horizontal stress (Shmin) relative to adjacent mechanical units in the section. These low stress beds include the bottom portion of both the Marcellus and Burket/Geneseo black shales. There are three thicker mechanical units carrying clouds of higher energy emissions. These three units include siltstones of the Brallier above the Burket/Geneseo package, silty shale beds of the Mahantango between the Marcellus and Burket/Geneseo packages, and Silurian-Devonian carbonates below the Marcellus package. In map view, emission patterns in the Brallier follow Alleghanian J2 joints. Patterns in the Mahantango are consistent with slip along columnar joint zones like those cutting upward in outcrops of shale on the Appalachian Plateau. In sum, SET reveals a mechanical stratigraphy based on the release of strain energy from three major units of the Middle Paleozoic section.