Rocky Mountain (56th Annual) and Cordilleran (100th Annual) Joint Meeting (May 3–5, 2004)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-5:00 PM


BEXFIELD, Christopher E.1, CARDON, Laura1, FILLERUP, Melvin A.1, NORTHCOTT, Melissa L.1, TINGEY, Brady E.1, MCBRIDE, John H.1 and PUGIN, Andre J.M.2, (1)Department of Geology, Brigham Young Univ, P. O. Box 24606, Provo, UT 84602, (2)Illinois State Geol Survey, 615 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign, IL 61820,

Exploration geophysics offers a unique opportunity to involve university students at all levels in research that fully integrates outdoor field work, learning instrument skills, logistical planning, mathematical and physical concepts, use of state-of-the-art software tools, geologic interpretation, and journal publication. Participation in such activity greatly enhances a student’s chance of future success in either pursuing further education or professional employment. At Brigham Young University, we are creating a mentoring environment where undergraduate students will collaborate with graduate students and faculty on geophysics research. For the first of these experiences, during summer of 2003 we joined ongoing efforts with the Illinois State Geological Survey in order to perform high-resolution shallow-penetration shear-wave (SH) surveys over the northern portion of the New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ). The northern part of the NMSZ, located near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, in southernmost Illinois and adjacent western Kentucky, is a unique and enigmatic part of the NMSZ in that it is where epicentral patterns appear to split into multiple strands and then disperse into a diffuse zone further north. Thus, our study area may hold the key for unraveling the neotectonic history of the zone and for providing useful constraints for seismic hazard assessment. Working in this region allows students to become involved in vigorous research in an area of critical interest for neotectonics as well as for societal concerns with seismic risk. The seismic profiles acquired so far reveal steeply dipping faults associated with reactivated grabens and anticlines displaying varying structural styles along with offset of overlying sediments as recent as Holocene. The detection and mapping of reactivated Paleozoic faults will provide valuable clues in constraining the study of earthquake recurrence within a poorly understood part of the NMSZ. Future student participation will include a 2.5-D marine-style seismic survey in the Ohio River over the NMSZ, and include initiatives in applying the lessons learned in the Midwest to solving neotectonic and hydrologic problems with seismic methods closer to home in the eastern Basin and Range Province.