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The computer is used to calculate models that simulate the development of salt dome forms. The overall forms of salt domes resemble those of small-scale models which use liquids for modeling material. The shapes of the small-scale domes are explained in terms of stresses acting at their outer surfaces. Random movements of salt masses within a salt dome create salt spines, ledges, and overhangs. These special features are described by random displacements of a simulated salt dome surface.
Salt dome forms are simulated by viscous flow and random walk models. Viscous flow models predict overall forms generated during the early stages of salt dome growth. Spines are produced on simulated, nonpiercement dome forms by coupling random walk and viscous flow models. The development of salt spines, ledges, and overhangs on piercement salt domes is simulated by a random walk model. This model predicts changes in dome forms for various rates of (a) subsidence of a salt basin, (b) sedimentation, and (c) compaction of overburden, and for differential movements of segments of simulated domes.
The random walk model is used to simulate the form of the Belle Isle salt dome in Louisiana, thereby testing the simulation method. An additional goodness-of-fit test is made by comparing the gravity profiles for the Belle Isle and experimental domes.
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