Abstract

Since the 1960s, the Permian Basin of west Texas and southeast New Mexico has experienced earthquakes that were possibly triggered by oil and gas activities. In recent years, seismicity has been concentrated near Pecos, Texas; around the Dagger Draw Field, New Mexico; and near the Cogdell Field, Snyder, Texas. We have collected hundreds of measurements of stress orientation and relative magnitude to identify potentially active normal, normal/strike-slip, or strike-slip faults that might be susceptible to earthquake triggering in this region. In the Midland Basin and Central Basin Platform, the faulting regime is consistently normal/strike slip, and the direction of the maximum horizontal compressive stress (SHmax) is approximately east–west, although modest rotations of the SHmax direction are seen in some areas. Within the Delaware Basin, however, a large-magnitude clockwise rotation (∼150°) of SHmax occurs progressively from being nearly north–south in the north to east-southeast–west-northwest in the south, including the western Val Verde Basin. A normal faulting stress field is observed throughout the Delaware Basin. We use these stress data to estimate the potential for slip on mapped faults across the Permian Basin in response to injection-related pressure changes at depth that might be associated with future oil and gas development activities in the region.

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