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Thermal Impact of Salt: Simulation of Thermal Anomalies in the Gulf of Mexico
Z. Yu (1), I. Lerche (1), A. Lowrie (2)
Salt and related structures have played important roles in controlling hydrocarbon accumulations in the Gulf of Mexico. Using a two-dimensional fluid flow/compaction model, which allows for both conduction and convection of heat, an examination is given of the effects on thermal patterns of the combined influence of multiple salt features, including diapirs, pillows, sheets and wedges. The focusing and defocusing of heat due to the higher thermal conductivity of salt are accounted for in the modeling. The results show that there could be as much as a 30°C anomaly above multi-salt bodies due to the focusing of heat by salt, and as much as 50°C temperature contrast between internal salt positions and sediments external to the salt in the deep part of a section. The magnitude of the thermal anomaly depends on the size (or width) of the salt and on the depth of the rooted salt. The modeled results provide estimates of the influence of salt in expanding the oil generation window by approximately half of the salt thickness.
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