Structure and stratigraphy of an evolving salt ridge and basin complex, Louisiana continental shelf
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Utilizing 887 kilometers of multi-stacked seismic reflection profiles and data from 27 exploratory wells, five salt domes arranged along two intersecting salt ridges, bounding and separating localized depocenters , were delineated by subsurface mapping of the structure, sediment distribution, and major sand trends of a 1621 square kilometer area on the Louisiana continental shelf. Pervasive normal faulting in the study area developed to accommodate lengthening of sedimentary units resulting from relative vertical displacement caused by uneven deposition and salt dome growth. These faults are domal (crestal and radial), bounding, and transverse in geometry. The genesis of the bounding faults can be visualized by two models; hinge faulting and collapse faulting. The dominant structural features of the study area began developing in early Pliocene. These features developed coincident with, and as the result of, a huge influx of paralic sediments associated with the progradation of the shelf edge across the study area between early Pliocene and early Pleistocene. The two major dip-oriented sand trends within this sediment wedge represent high constructive delta systems. The positions of the two systems were locally controlled by growing salt structures and sediments were therefore concentrated in the evolving depocenters . A hint of the deep structure which predated the influx of paralic sediments in Pliocene and early Pleistocene is revealed by a structural reversal present on seismic profiles at about 4.0 seconds in the northwest part of the study area. Reconstruction of the paleostructure of this area reveals the flank of an ancestral structural and stratigraphic basin. This basin may represent an ancestral depocenter which began developing very early on the abyssal plain.