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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 95, No. 10 (October 2011), P. 16671698.

Copyright copy2011. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Salt tectonics in the western Gulf of Cadiz, southwest Iberia

Hugo Matias,1 Pedro Kress,2 Pedro Terrinha,3 Webster Mohriak,4 Paulo T. L. Menezes,5 Luis Matias,6 Fernando Santos,7 Frode Sandnes8

1REPSOL, Paseo de la Castellana, 280, 4th Floor, 28035 Madrid, Spain; present address: IDL-Instituto D. Luis, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal; [email protected]
2Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales SA, Macacha Guemes 515, Piso 23, C1106BKK Buenos Aires, Argentina; [email protected]
3Laboratorio Nacional de Energia e Geologia-Unit of Marine Geology, Estrada da Portela, 2720-866 Amadora, Portugal; [email protected]
4Petroleo Brasileiro S.A.-Petrobras/Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janerio-Faculdade de Geologia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; [email protected]
5Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janerio/Petrobras, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; [email protected]
6Centro de Geofisica da Universidade de Lisboa, Edificio C8, Piso 6, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal; [email protected]
7Centro de Geofisica da Universidade de Lisboa, Edificio C8, Piso 6, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal; [email protected]
8Fortis Petroleum Norway AS, Solbraveien 20, N-1383 Asker, Norway; [email protected]


This study presents the results from the interpretation of an extensive and recent regional two-dimensional seismic survey focused on the understanding of the salt tectonics in the western Gulf of Cadiz (GoC). Two different salt units were identified: an autochthonous salt unit of the Late Triassic or the Early Jurassic (Hettangian) and an allochthonous unit that originated from the Hettangian salt. Interpretation of the pattern of distribution of the salt in the basin allowed subdivision of the area of study into three distinct salt domains: the eastern domain characterized by the presence of a conspicuous allochthonous salt nappe (Esperanca Salt), the central domain dominated by salt diapirs with mild deformation of Miocene strata and wide salt-withdrawal minibasins, and the southwestern domain where present-day tectonics induces impressive salt deformation affecting the sea floor. This complex pattern is mainly the result of the interaction of inherited basement structure, complex tectonic history, and stress regime of the basin. The intense halokinesis observed has created several salt-related trap geometries and fluid migration pathways. As the focus of worldwide exploration along passive margins is gradually shifting to deep-water regions, the western GoC has the potential to become a deep-water petroleum province in the near future.

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