Faulting in the US shale basins
These pages are an atlas-style compilation of the evidence for faulting in the principal US shale basins. It is difficult to provide a definitive peer-reviewed type of review, not least because of the variety of informal and sometimes ephemeral sources that need to be drawn upon. The problem is exarcebated by the difficulties in reproducing copyrighted material. In addition, the overall result of the review - that upward migration of potential contaminants via faults is not an issue in the USA - is not the kind of negative finding that journals generally publish.I have tried to acknowledge all the sources I have used, including the sources of the diagrams and maps that I have reproduced. But I would be grateful if errors or omissions could be pointed out.
Many of the maps are based on a Global Mapper database. The projection used throughout is Lambert Conic Conformal, origin 39°N, standard parallels 33° and 45°N, with central meridian 96°W for the western shale plays (west of the Mississippi) and 78°W for the eastern plays.
The US shale basins are of foreland or intracratonic type, with the exception of the Eagle Ford and Haynesville-Bossier shale plays of Texas and Louisiana, which are extensional basins on the distal flanks of the Gulf of Mexico. The main data source for the US basin data is the Energy Information Administration (EIA), except for the Permian Midland and Permian Delaware Basins, for which the data come from local industry sources.
The review data are primarily arranged by state and county, but can also be accessed by shale (or other unconventional) play name, or by basin name.
The review demonstrates that through-going faults connecting shale at depth to shallow groundwater resources or to outcrop are extremely rare, compared to those in extensional basins in Europe.