Identifying brittle deformation with remote sensing of geomorphic landforms on the Southern High Plains, West Texas
Cunningham, Vincent F.
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In the Texas Panhandle, drainages and cliff faces expose systematically fractured Late Paleozoic to Tertiary sedimentary rocks¬¬¬¬. These deposits include the upper sequence of the Palo Duro Basin (Permian White Horse Formation and Quartermaster Formation) and overlying fluvial deposits of the Triassic Dockum Group and Tertiary Ogallala Group. Permeable brittle structures influence geomorphological patterns, resulting in a distribution of systematic lineaments parallel to underlying bedrock faults fractures. The orientations of these brittle structures can be identified by measuring lineaments with various remote sensing techniques. A manual lineament extraction on four different types of processed digital images tests the ability to remotely characterize and quantify fracture orientations. Results suggest the most successful method in remotely characterizing brittle structures requires analyzing a compilation of lineaments common to several different image types. Lineament analyses are useful tools for regionally mapping major permeable faults and fracture, which carry implications for resource development, engineering pursuits, and natural hazard assessment in the Texas Panhandle. Lineament trends compare to fracture strikes in Caprock Canyons State Park and surrounding areas. Systematic cross-cutting relationships of fractures and veins yields a relative timing relationship between variably oriented brittle structures. Populations of fracture sets display a systematic change in orientation ascending the stratigraphic section. Assuming the fractures reflect the regional ambient stress field at the time of formation, the change in orientation of fracture strikes implies a rotation of the maximum horizontal stress from NE to NNW from Permian to Pleistocene time.