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The Anadarko basin in Oklahoma has long been a major oil and gas producing region and contains the deepest wells drilled in North America. The region has had a long sedimentary-tectonic history reaching back to the Proterozoic and was the site of an early Paleozoic basin. The present shape of the Anadarko basin, however, was developed in late Paleozoic times as a result of the uplift of the Wichita Mountains. COCORP seismic reflection profiles show at least 8 to 9 km (5 to 5.6 mi) of overthrusting northward, and the Anadarko basin was developed as a result of flexural bending of the lithosphere due to this shortening. Downwarping of the basin can be observed to extend for over 300 km (185 mi) northward, indicating a high flexural rigidity (Te > 40 km [25 mi]). However, nearer the Wichita front, the basin steepens rapidly as the post-Mississippian sediments thicken to over 20,000 ft (6,100 m). The shape of the bending is such that it cannot be explained by the use of a constant rigidity elastic plate model. We have modeled the post-Mississippian development of the Anadarko basin as the result of flexure of an elastic-plastic plate due to vertical and horizontal loading caused by the Wichita Mountains. Implications of these results for the development of the Anadarko basin and the mechanical properties of continental lithosphere will be discussed.
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