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Reinold R. Cornelius1, Alex Erendi2, Lawrence M. Cathles3
(1) GSCI Consulting, Austin, TX
(2) Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
(3) Cornell University, Itahca, NY

Abstract: Automated 3D Inference of Salt Movements in the Gulf of Mexico

The formation and diapiric destruction of salt canopies has a direct impact on fluid flow and hydrocarbon migration during basin building on passive margins with massive salt, such as the Gulf of Mexico. The reconstruction of the salt history can be time consuming and is subject to uncertainties of many kinds. We demonstrate a new computational method to infer the three-dimensional evolution of salt structures directly from the supra-salt sedimentation record without intervention by an interpreter. We calculate compaction and hydrocarbon-driven fluid flow throug welds in the evolving salt sheet for two areas in the offshore Louisiana Gulf of Mexico: one covering 120 x 230 km and the other 20 x 50 km areas. We show for the smaller area that the automatically derived salt history is almost identical to a 2D salt migration history inferred by conventional means by Rowan. The salt reconstruction method takes into account faults which root in salt decollements. The timing of salt weld formation is later in our 3D simulations than in simulations for two-dimensional sections through the same areas. The later timing is more compatible with the late filling of Block 330 reservoirs. The algorithm is flexible enough to incorporate future improvements to handle other specific geologic scenarios.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90914©2000 AAPG Annual Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana