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AAPG Bulletin, V.
Structural analysis of a salt-cored transfer zone in the South Timbalier Block 54, offshore Gulf of Mexico: Implications for restoration of salt-related extensional structures
1ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma 73019; present address: ExxonMobil Production Company, Houston, Texas 77604; [email protected]
2ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma 73019; [email protected]
The style of faulting in offshore Louisiana, Gulf of Mexico, is characterized by short, arcuate regional and counterregional growth faults, which commonly form complex transfer zones above shallow, Miocene level salt bodies. South Timbalier Block 54 (ST54) constitutes one such area where a basinward-dipping regional and a landward-dipping counterregional growth fault form a convergent transfer zone. Structural interpretation using three-dimensional (3-D) seismic and well data reveals that the eastern and western flanks of the structure contain salt in the footwalls of the main regional and counterregional faults. The salt rises to a much shallower stratigraphic level in the central part of the transfer zone, forming a symmetric salt diapir. Secondary antithetic and synthetic faults adjacent to the two main faults and extending into the transfer zone accommodate slip between the main faults.
Kinematic restoration of a series of north–south-trending cross sections across the structure show that upslope evacuation of salt is the result of sediment loading and growth fault movement, and the location of the transfer zone is possibly controlled by the allochthonous salt. The entire area is characterized by down-to-basin movement, with the major regional and counterregional faults displaying footwall and hanging-wall fixed deformation, respectively. The presence of the crestal graben above the salt high and the timing of maximum salt evacuation from the flanks suggest that active or reactive diapirism occurred during part of the deformation history. A 3-D structural model using depth-converted horizons, balanced cross sections, and well tops accurately portrays the subsurface structure. Understanding the evolution of the structure in ST54 provides insight on similar structures in other areas in offshore Louisiana and the relationship between salt evacuation and transfer zone development.
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