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The Gulf Coast is an important province for photogeologic applications even though much of it is of low dip and low relief and commonly covered by Pleistocene terrace deposits.
The Gulf Coast is a very active and dynamic province, characterized by clastic sediments that were laid down very rapidly. As a result the sediments are out of equilibrium and considerable compaction and settling have occurred, and many structures have formed. It is this movement and adjustment, acting throughout geologic time, that allow a subsurface structure to continually extend toward the surface, where it can be detected by subtle photogeologic techniques.
Photogeologic or photogeomorphic techniques, including analyses of drainage, topography, vegetation, deposition, and lineation, can definitely locate surface structures. Many of the Gulf Coast oil and gas fields have surface expression. Fields with good expression include those located in areas of current exploration interest, such as Sunniland and Felda in South Florida, Flomaton and Blackjack Creek in the Alabama-Florida Jurassic play, Edgewood and Fruitvale in East Texas, and Big Wells and Los Tiendos in Southwest Texas. Many other fields have good expression including Citronelle, Blacklake, Neale, Reyes, Mathis, and North Government Wells.
Normally, photogeologic interpretation must terminate at the coastlines, but a relatively new sonar-subsea mapping device allows exploration to continue onto the shelf areas. The Institut Francais du Petrole has developed a wide-range scanning sonar that can provide sea-bottom sonar images that rival aerial photographs.
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