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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 Jan 2019

Research article | 14 Jan 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Solid Earth (SE).

Mechanisms of destructing translational domains in passive margin salt basins: Insights from analogue modelling

Zhiyuan Ge1, Matthias Rosenau2, Michael Warsitzka2,3, and Rob L. Gawthorpe1 Zhiyuan Ge et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, Allégaten 41, 5007 Bergen, Norway
  • 2Helmholtz Center Potsdam, German Research Center for Geosciences - GFZ Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Institute of Geophysics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Boční I I/1401, 141 31 Prague 4, Czech Republic

Abstract. Current gravitational tectonics models illustrating the structural style of passive margin salt basins typically have domains of upslope extension and corresponding downslope contraction, separated by a domain of rather undeformed mid-slope translation. However, such a translational domain is rarely observed in natural systems where extensional and contractional structures may interfere in the mid-slope area. In this study, we use sandbox analogue modelling analyzed by 4D digital image correlation (DIC) to investigate how the pre-kinematic layer thickness, differential sediment loading and sedimentation rate control the structural evolution of translational domains. As in nature, experimental deformation is driven by slowly increasing gravitational forces associated with continuous basal tilting. The results show that a translational domain persists throughout the basin evolution when the pre-kinematic layer is evenly distributed, although a thin (1 mm in the experiment, 100 m in nature) pre-kinematic layer can render the translational domain relatively narrow when comparing to settings with a thicker (5 mm) pre-kinematic layer. In contrast, early differential sedimentary loading in the mid-slope area creates minibasins intervened by salt diapirs overprinting the translational domain. Similarly, very low sedimentation rate (1 mm per day in the experiment, equates to < 17 m/Ma in nature) in the early stage of the experiment results in an immature translational domain quickly overprinted by downslope migration of the extensional domain and upslope migration of the contractional domain. Our study suggests that the architecture of passive margin salt basins is closely linked to the sedimentary cover thickness and sedimentation pattern and rate. The translational domain, as an unformed region in the supra-salt cover, is likely a transient feature in nature and destructed in passive margins with either low sedimentation rate or a heterogeneous sedimentation pattern.

Zhiyuan Ge et al.
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Zhiyuan Ge et al.
Data sets

Digital image correlation data from analogue modeling experiments addressing mechanisms of destructing translational domains in passive margin salt basins Z. Ge, M. Rosenau, M. Warsitzka, M. Rudolf, and R. Gawthorpe

Zhiyuan Ge et al.
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Short summary
Salt basins are important as they bear abundant hydrocarbon resource and record the geological evolution. However, current understanding does not fully reconcile with natural examples. Using state-of-the-art analogue modelling technique, we study how an undefromed area occurs in the experiment and gets destroyed later. The results suggest the natural systems work quite differently as we currently know. This study can help us to better explore natural resources in the salt basins.
Salt basins are important as they bear abundant hydrocarbon resource and record the geological...