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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 100, No. 9 (September 2016), P. 1419-1442.

Copyright ©2016. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1306/03101614087

Three-dimensional evolution of salt-controlled minibasins: Interactions, folding, and megaflap development

Jean-Paul Callot,1 Jean-François Salel,2 Jean Letouzey,3 Jean-Marc Daniel,4 and Jean-Claude Ringenbach5

1Université de Pau et Pays de l’Adour, Avenue de l'Université, 64013 Pau, France; [email protected]
2Total E&P USA, 1201 Louisiana Street, Suite 1800, Houston, Texas 77002; [email protected]
3Sorbonne Universités, University Pierre et Marie Curie University Paris 6, Institut des Sciences de la Terre de Paris (iSTeP), 4 Place Jussieu, 75005 Paris, France; [email protected]
4IFREMER, Pointe du Diable, 29280 Plouzané, France; [email protected]
5Total SA, Centre Scientifique et Technique Jean Féger, Avenue Larribau, 64000 Pau, France; [email protected]


A megaflap, or an overturned, folded, sedimentary-basin edge, is a classic feature of salt-controlled basins, formed during the inception of salt allochthony. To illustrate the relative importance of the balance between salt and sediment inputs, basin rheology, and tectonism resulting from basin interactions in the development of megaflaps, a set of analog experiments were performed in a computed tomography scanner. Sediments are modeled using both granular material and a mix of granular and viscous material and salt as purely viscous material. Uneven sedimentary loading and associated salt flow localize primary minibasins, which then migrate and expand laterally until sufficient thickness is reached to pin the downbuilding phase. The encasement of minibasins into the mother-salt layer is followed by secondary minibasin development above the canopy, the inception and localization of which appear to be more locally controlled by the primary salt feeders, salt glaciers, and canopies. Enhanced salt extrusion along basin edges is responsible for (1) classic halokinetic sequences, (2) major wedging and basin-edge erosion, and (3) basin-edge backfolding onto the basin centers, forming megaflaps. Basin interactions during differential subsidence and secondary minibasin development above the allochthonous salt canopy result in the formation of salt welds and tectonic deformation at basin boundaries, including broken and transported basin edges. The major controlling factor in megaflap development is salt allochthony, which allows the local salt extrusion rate to be higher than the sedimentation rate. Enhanced allochthony is the result of enhanced pressure related to local salt stock squeezing, regional shortening, or basin tilting.

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