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AAPG Bulletin, Preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 15 September 2022.

Copyright © 2022. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Growth and evolution of salt canopies on a salt-detached slope: insights from physical models

Tim P. Dooley, Martin P. A. Jackson*, and Michael R. Hudec

1 Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, University Station, Box X, Austin, Texas, 78713-8924, USA
* Deceased

Ahead of Print Abstract

Salt canopies form the most spectacular and complex structures in the realm of salt tectonics. In this study we use two physical models to examine salt-canopy growth and evolution on a salt-detached slope. A series of 14 feeders were seeded in our models and grew upwards as passive diapirs. Eventually these passive diapirs spread as salt sheets with motion vectors skewed down the imposed regional dipslope. Sutures between individual sheets were bowed in the direction of override and became dismembered as the canopy system matured. Feeders in the interior of the array faced increasing competition for salt due to drawdown and primary welding. In contrast, feeders on the canopy peripheries faced less competition and rose more vigorously generating local elevation-head gradients and imparting salt-flow directions highly oblique to the regional dipslope. Finally, our model canopies were loaded by prograding sediments. Canopy formation is strongly controlled by the salt budget, amongst other factors, and our less-mature model formed a series of small canopies and isolated salt sheets. During sedimentary loading, this model displayed intra-sheet and intra-canopy inflation-deflation flow cells as salt was driven down dip. Sutures were further dispersed, and some were everted. Loading of our mature model deflated the originally-continuous canopy, driving salt seawards up a series of base-salt ramps to form a shallow distal canopy. Suture fragments were carried all the way to the toe of this shallow canopy.

Our more mature model was also shortened, prior to loading, that resulted in canopy remobilization, thickening, and enhanced suture deformation. Salt flow during shortening was channeled by feeders, forming salt streams with orientations commonly oblique to regional dip. Canopy salt responded to shortening primarily by thickening, whereras the sediments below the canopy display a contrasting story. Here a complex network of thrusts and tear faults linked the variably-welded feeders.

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Please cite this AAPG Bulletin Ahead of Print article as:

Tim P. Dooley, Martin P. A. Jackson, Michael R. Hudec: Growth and evolution of salt canopies on a salt-detached slope: insights from physical models, (in press; preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 15 September 2022: AAPG Bulletin, DOI:10.1306/08072222013.