Four high-quality seismic reflection profiles through the southern Illinois Basin, totaling 245 km in length, provide an excellent regional subsurface stratigraphic and structural framework for evaluation of seismic risk, hydrocarbon occurrence, and other regional geologic studies. These data provide extensive subsurface information on the geometry of the intersection of the Cambrian Reelfoot and Rough Creek rifts, on extensive Proterozoic reflection sequences, and on structures (including the Fluorspar Area Fault Complex and Hicks Dome) that underlie a transitional area between the well-defined New Madrid seismic zone (to the southwest) and a more diffuse area of seismicity in the southern Illinois Basin.
Our principal interpretations from these data are listed here in order of geologic age, from oldest to youngest:
Prominent Proterozoic layering, possibly equivalent to Proterozoic (∼1 Ga) Middle Run Formation clastic strata and underlying (1.3–1.5 Ga) volcanic rocks of the East Continent rift basin, has been strongly deformed, probably as part of the Grenville foreland fold and thrust belt.
A well-defined angular unconformity is seen in many places between Proterozoic and Cambrian strata; a post-Grenville Proterozoic sequence is also apparent locally, directly beneath the base of the Cambrian.
We infer a major reversal in Cambrian rift polarity (accommodation zone) in the Rough Creek Graben in western Kentucky.
Seismic facies analysis suggests the presence of basin-floor fan complexes at and near the base of the Cambrian interval and within parts of a Proterozoic post-Grenville sequence in several parts of the Rough Creek Graben.
There is an abrupt pinchout of the Mount Simon Sandstone against crystalline basement beneath the Dale Dome (near the Texaco no. 1 Cuppy well, Hamilton County) in southeastern Illinois, and a more gradual Mount Simon pinchout to the southeast.
Where crossed by the seismic reflection line in southeast Illinois, some faults in the Wabash Valley Fault System produce discrete offset in Ordovician and younger strata only; one of the Wabash Valley faults cuts the top of the Precambrian on this seismic profile.
The data show clear evidence of late Paleozoic reverse faulting along both boundaries of the Rough Creek Graben in western Kentucky, although significant unreactivated Cambrian rift-bounding faults are also preserved.
Chaotic reflection patterns in the lower and middle Paleozoic strata near Hicks Dome, southern Illinois, are related to a combination of intrusive brecciation, intense faulting, and alteration of carbonate strata by acidic mineralizing fluids, all of which occurred in the Permian.
Late Paleozoic(?) reverse faulting is interpreted on one flank of the Rock Creek Graben, southern Illinois.
Permian and Mesozoic(?) extensional faulting is clearly imaged in the Fluorspar Area Fault Complex; neotectonic studies suggest that these structures were reactivated in the Quaternary.