The Internal Structure of Model and Natural Salt Domes

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To enhance our understanding of the internal structure of salt stocks, we conducted 30 centrifuge experiments that produced hundreds of model diapirs under artificial acceleration generally equivalent to 1,200 times that of normal gravity. Most of these experiments were geometrically and dynamically scaled to be equivalent to U.S. Gulf Coast salt domes. The domes were modeled under static overburdens and, for the first time, under aggrading and prograding overburdens. This report focuses on the internal structure of mushroom-shaped domes, which theoretically exist in nature and are demonstrated in natural examples in the U.S. Gulf Coast, Canada, and West Germany. The experimental results enable the extremely complex internal structure of mushroom-shaped salt domes to be recognized and understood. This recognition is vital because a mushroom structure would threaten the integrity of a hypothetical repository by creating a plumbing system composed of country rocks infolded from below the diapir cap and extending to near the dome center.


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