Base-Salt Relief Controls on Salt-Tectonic Structural Style, São Paulo Plateau, Santos Basin, Brazil

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Leonardo Muniz Pichel, Christopher Aiden-Lee Jackson , Frank Peel, Tim Dooley


Base-salt relief influences salt flow, producing three-dimensionally complex strains and multiphase deformation within the salt and its overburden. Understanding how base-salt relief influences salt-related deformation is important to correctly interpret salt basin kinematics and distribution of structural domains, which have important implications to understand the development of key petroleum system elements. The São Paulo Plateau, Santos Basin, Brazil is characterized by a >2 km thick, mechanically layered Aptian salt layer deposited above prominent base-salt relief. We use 3D seismic reflection data, and physical and conceptual kinematic models to investigate how gravity-driven translation above thick salt, underlain by complex base-salt relief, generated a complex framework of salt structures and minibasins. We show that ramp-syncline basins developed above and downdip of the main pre-salt highs record c. 30 km of Late Cretaceous-Paleocene basinward translation. As salt and overburden translated downdip, salt flux variations caused by the base-salt relief resulted in non-uniform motion of the cover, and the simultaneous development of extensional and contractional structures. Contraction preferentially occurred where salt flow locally decelerated, above landward-dipping base-salt ramps and downdip of basinward-dipping ramps. Extension occurred at the top of basinward-dipping ramps and base-salt plateaus, where salt flow locally accelerated. Where the base of the salt layer was broadly flat, structures evolved primarily by load-driven passive diapirism. At the edge of or around smaller base-salt highs, salt structures were affected by plan-view rotation, shearing and divergent flow. The magnitude of translation (c. 30 km) and the style of salt-related deformation observed on the São Paulo Plateau afford an improved kinematic model for the enigmatic Albian Gap, suggesting this structure formed by a combination of basinward salt expulsion and regional extension. These observations contribute to the long-lived debate regarding the mechanisms of salt tectonics on the São Paulo Plateau, ultimately improving our general understanding of the effects of base-salt relief on salt tectonics in other basins.



Earth Sciences, Geology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Tectonics and Structure


salt tectonics, base-salt relief, minibasins, Diapirism, Santos Basin, translation, gravity-driven deformation, ramp-syncline basins, Sao Paulo Plateau


Published: 2018-12-31 00:41

Last Updated: 2019-05-25 15:36

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