2-Dimensional Seismic Refraction Mapping Study of the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary Complex from the Brazos, Texas Section
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Many scientific studies have been conducted on the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (KTB) in the Gulf coast region and, in particular, the Brazos River section in Falls County, Texas. Despite this, there remains much to be learned about the KTB and its depositional environment. Study of the KTB has been multidisciplinary, primarily in the fields of sedimentology and paleontology. Some researchers in these disciplines have questioned the consensus view of the placement of the KTB and subsequent interpretation of the timing of depositional events and mass extinction events. Geophysical methods have potential to provide additional understanding of the physical properties of the KTB. To date, study of the KTB has relied on point data and borehole information to create cross sections of the complex. Seismic refraction surveys can provide spatially continuous information on susburface horizons located adjacent to the KTB. In this study, seismic first-arrival traveltimes are processed with a tomographic modeling program to map the top of the hummocky cross-bedded sandstone (HCS), which is a key indicator of the deposition environment at the time of KTB boundary complex placement. The survey area is located at Cottonmouth Creek, a tributary of the Brazos River. Three seismic lines were surveyed, one across Cottonmouth Creek, and two parallel to the creek on either side. The data from the two parallel lines were processed using the 2-D seismic refraction tomography algorithm of Zelt and Smith. The reconstructed depth to the HCS in the survey area is approximately 6 m, with layer seismic velocities of 364, 1800, and 2200 m/s, respectively. Seismic tomography successfully mapped the HCS layer and reveals approximately 1 m amplitude undulations vertically and undulations on the order of several m horizontally. These variations are consistent with exposed surfaces of the HCS in the creek bed. Seismic refraction has been utilized successfully herein to map a key buried indicator, namely the top of the HCS layer, associated with the KTB complex. A detailed 3-D seismic refraction survey at this site is recommended to generate a high-resolution 2-D terrain map of the top of the HCS layer.
Gowan, Joshua Smith (2012). 2-Dimensional Seismic Refraction Mapping Study of the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary Complex from the Brazos, Texas Section. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from