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AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 9 (1925)

Issue: 9. (December)

First Page: 1227

Last Page: 1268

Title: The American Salt-Dome Problems in the Light of the Roumanian and German Salt Domes

Author(s): Donald C. Barton


The American salt-dome problems are divisible into two parallel series, the one comprising problems of description, the other problems of theory. The solution of the latter are of necessity dependent upon solution of the former. The American salt domes consist of subcircular stocklike masses of salt, capped in most cases by limestone and gypsum-anhydrite, intruded into and surrounded by Pleistocene-Eocene or Eocene-Cretaceous sediments which dip quaquaversally away from the salt core. The domes show certain tendencies to alignment. They occur in regions of geologic quiescence where there has been no compressive folding.

The Roumanian salt domes are divisible into two groups, the Carpathian-Sub-Carpathian, and the Transylvanian. The Carpathian-Sub-Carpathian domes consist of narrow, elongated, vertical intrusions of the Salifere salt, clays, and marls along anticlinal axes and into a thick series of Pliocene and Miocene sediments. The domes occur on the edge of, and immediately in front of, the Carpathian sheet overthrust and are aligned along structural, mostly anticlinal, axes which reflect the effect of the Carpathian tectonics. If the difference in the structural setting is allowed for, the Roumanian domes closely resemble those in America. Their origin has usually been attributed to some phase of the tangential thrust of the Carpathian mountain-building forces. Krejci recently has raised strong o jection to that theory, and has advanced a tectonic-isostatic theory according to which tectonic thrust is responsible for the localization and initiation of their formation, but the weight of the overlying sediments is responsible for the upthrust of the Salifere core. The Transylvanian domes occur in the Plio-Miocene Transylvanian basin. Although only poorly known, they seem to be very similar in form to the American domes. They are aligned on anticlinal axes which are subparallel to the periphery of the basin.

The German salt domes are a phase of the German salt deposits, which are a definitely sedimentary series with a well-defined, persistent, and characteristic section. One of the middle members carries marine fossils, and two members are potash bearing. On account of the extensive mining and exploration for this potash, and on account of the recognizable section in the salt series, the structural deformation of the salt deposits has been worked out in great detail. On the basis of form and structure of the salt deposits there is a complete gradation in type and in space from undeformed sedimentary beds through broad anticlines with slightly swollen cores of salt (Strassfurt type), sharp anticlines where the salt core is starting to pierce the cover (Asse type), to broken

End_Page 1227------------------------------

anticlines in which the salt core has been squeezed up between the two flanks (Leine type), or to salt stocks (Hannoverian type) in which a pluglike mass of salt has been intruded for thousands of meters vertically into the overlying sediments. There seemingly can be no dispute that the German salt domes and salt ridges are the result of the plastic deformation and flow of a sedimentary salt series. The salt domes and ridges are aligned along Rhenish and Hercynian anticlinal axes. Many of the domes seem to be at the intersection of axes. The upthrust of the salt cores is attributed to tectonic thrust by Stille, who presents substantial evidence for such a theory. Lachman, Arrhenius, Seidl, and others argue less conclusively for an isostatic upthrust.

In view of the evidence of the Roumanian and German salt domes, in addition to what is known about the American domes, it would seem unreasonable to believe that the American salt domes are not the result of the plastic deformation and upthrust of a sedimentary salt series.

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