1887
Volume 27, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 1354-0793
  • E-ISSN:

Abstract

We use 3D seismic reflection data from the Levant margin, offshore Lebanon to investigate the structural evolution of the Messinian evaporite sequence, and how intra-salt structure and strain varies within a thick salt sheet during early-stage salt tectonics. Intra-Messinian reflectivity reveals lithological heterogeneity within the otherwise halite-dominated sequence. This leads to rheological heterogeneity, with the different mechanical properties of the various units controlling strain accommodation within the deforming salt sheet. We assess the distribution and orientation of structures, and show how intra-salt strain varies both laterally and vertically along the margin. We argue that units appearing weakly strained in seismic data may in fact accommodate considerable subseismic or cryptic strain. We also discuss how the intra-salt stress state varies through time and space in response to the gravitational forces driving deformation. We conclude that efficient drilling through thick, heterogeneous salt requires a holistic understanding of the mechanical and kinematic development of the salt and its overburden. This will also enable us to build better velocity models that account for intra-salt lithological and structural complexity in order to accurately image sub-salt geological structures.

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