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Evolution of Stocks and Massifs from Burial of Salt Sheets, Continental Slope, Northern Gulf of Mexico

SENI, STEVEN J., Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Salt structures in a 4000-sq km region of the continental slope, the northeast Green Canyon area, include stocks, massifs, remnant structures, and an allochthonous sheet. Salt-withdrawal basins include typical semicircular basins and an extensive linear trough that is largely salt-free. Counterregional growth faults truncate the landward margin of salt sheets that extend 30-50 km to the Sigsbee Escarpment. The withdrawal basins, stocks, and massifs occur within a large graben between an east-northeast-trending landward zone of shelf-margin growth faults and a parallel trend of counterregional growth faults located 48-64 km basinward. The graben formed by extension and subsidence as burial of the updip portion of a thick salt sheet produced massifs and stocks by downbuilding.

Differential loading segmented the updip margin of the salt sheet into stocks and massifs separated by salt-withdrawal basins. Initially, low-relief structures evolved by trap-door growth as half-graben basins buried the salt sheet. Remnant-salt structures and a turtle-structure anticline overlay a salt-weld disconformity in sediments formerly separated by a salt sheet. Age of sediments below the weld is inferred to be late Miocene to early Pliocene (4.6-5.3 Ma); age of sediments above the weld is late Pliocene (2.8-3.5 Ma). The missing interval of time (1-2.5 Ma) is the duration between emplacement of the salt sheet and burial of the sheet. Sheet extrusion began in the late Miocene to early Pliocene, and sheet burial began in the late Pliocene in the area of the submarine trough to e rly Pleistocene in the area of the massifs.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91004 © 1991 AAPG Annual Convention Dallas, Texas, April 7-10, 1991 (2009)