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Scientific Drilling in the Sevier Desert Basin



Sevier MapGeological studies in the proposed borehole are aimed at elucidating the character of the Paleozoic-Cenozoic contact and the long-term evolution of the basin - together constituting a new critical test of the detachment hypothesis. In situ measurements are aimed at determining the conditions under which displacement may have taken place, as recently as the Holocene, consistent with the generally accepted interpretation of the geology. Specific issues to be addressed include the following:

  • Evidence for ductile and/or brittle deformation vs an unconformable contact, recognizing that fault rocks may have been partially removed by erosion prior to burial, and that an originally unconformable contact may have been involved in faulting.
  • The history of sediment accumulation, and how the timing of basin development relates to exhumation of the hypothesized footwall of the detachment. A full suite of downhole logs (especially acoustic logging) will allow confident correlation with seismic reflection data.
  • In situ physical conditions along the detachment zone, including pore pressure, fracture permeability, fluid chemistry, temperature, the orientation of stress axes and the magnitude of differential stress. Employing methods developed and refined for the KTB and SAFOD drilling projects, particularly hydraulic fracturing tests and analysis of tensile and compressional (breakout) failures of the wellbore wall, it will be possible to estimate the complete stress tensor at depth along the detachment zone.

Figure: Location of the Sevier Desert in western U.S. Dots and circles are earthquakes. The north trending band of earthquakes adjacent to the Sevier Desert marks the eastern boundary of the Basin and Range. The intense seismicity to the west of the Basin and Range results from the San Andreas fault system. The western boundary of the Basin and Range is marked by the less intense seismicity associated with the Walker-Lane fault system. (© Nicholas Christie-Blick)



North America, U.S.A., United States of America, Utah, Sevier Desert Basin



39° 10' N, 112° 30' W (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)


Project Start and End
  •  not decided yet


Programs and Funding


Principal Investigators
  • Nicholas Christie-Blick, Columbia University, The Earth Institute, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Division of Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics
  • Mark H. Anders, University of Ireland, School of Natural Sciences, Earth and Ocean Sciences
  • Georg Dresen, German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 4.2, Geomechanics and Rheology
  • Gordon Stuart Lister, Australian National University, Research School of Earth Sciences, Earth Materials
  • Gianreto Manatschal, Université de Strasbourg 1, Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg, Dynamique de la Lithosphère et des Bassins Sédimentaires
  • Brian Philip Wernicke, California Institute of Technology, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences


Partners and Contractors



Active Faults, Drilling, Extensional Detachment, ICDP-2007/09, SEVIER, Sevier Basin, U.S.A., Utah


Current State





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