Seismic Investigations Applied to Landscape Evolution and Tectonic Development: Valles Caldera, New Mexico and Guinea Plateau, West Africa
AuthorOlyphant, Jared Russell
AdvisorJohnson, Roy A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 17-Jan-2019
AbstractGeophysical investigation of the subsurface through seismic refraction and reflection methods provides an efficient and non-invasive means towards addressing geologic problems across multiple scales. Both seismic techniques, in an active-source exploration setting, involve inducing acoustic waves into the subsurface and measuring their propagation velocities and amplitudes. These measurements have physically-based relationships with the properties of the underlying strata, thus allowing changes in the seismic measurements to be interpreted with respect to changes in the subsurface geology. Two applications of the seismic method are presented in this dissertation: (1) shallow seismic refraction acquisition and processing applied to the near-surface investigations of soil and regolith, which constitute the Critical Zone (CZ), beneath the upland hillslopes of the Valles Caldera, New Mexico; (2) interpretation of 2-D and 3-D marine seismic reflection data that image the upper 10-km of the crust beneath the Southern Guinea Plateau, offshore Guinea, West Africa. In both cases, the seismic data provide necessary constraints for the generation of accurate subsurface models that permit further geophysical modeling. The near-surface results, presented in Appendix A, provided a rich dataset of weathered thicknesses across hillslopes that supported an investigation of potential relationships between CZ geologic architecture and topographic attributes. Quantified relationships suggest that calibrated predictions based on the topography can provide first-order estimates of regolith thickness across upland landscapes. These results add to the ongoing CZ-science endeavor to understand proposed links between subsurface weathering processes and their surface expressions. In Appendix B, interpretations of high-resolution 3-D seismic data have illuminated deformational structures associated with Mesozoic rifting of the Southern Guinea Plateau. The interpretations were expanded onto regional 2-D seismic profiles, permitting a regional synthesis of the southern margin’s structural evolution. Additional tectonic subsidence and forward-gravity modeling highlight the influence of Jurassic rifting on the Southern Guinea Plateau prior to Early-Cretaceous rifting and separation, as well as crustal thickness estimates from the continental shelf out towards oceanic crust. Lastly, the Guinea-Demerara conjugate plateaus, and their associated deformations, were restored to 100 Ma, revealing an apparent upper-crustal asymmetry between the two margins. Appendix C presents two seismic-exploration methodologies based on 3-D seismic reflection data: (1) the calculation and interpretation of two co-rendered volumetric seismic attributes – most-positive curvature and semblance; (2) numerically modeling the tectonic subsidence of an entire 3-D seismic survey. Both techniques are used to address the inherent difficulty in interpreting the extent to which Jurassic rifting affected the Southern Guinea Plateau. Furthermore, the numerical model of subsidence provides a new exploration technique towards qualitatively and quantitatively assisting in the assessment of potential hydrocarbon-bearing basins.
Degree ProgramGraduate College