Salt welding during canopy advance and shortening in the Green Canyon Area, northern Gulf of Mexico

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Christopher Aiden-Lee Jackson , Sian Lianne Evans , Turki Alshammasi


Welds form due to the tectonically-induced thinning and/or dissolution of salt, with their composition and completeness thought to at least partly reflect their structural position within the salt-tectonic system. Despite their importance as seals or migration pathways for accumulations of hydrocarbons and CO2, we have relatively few examples of drilled subsurface welds; such examples would allow us to improve our understanding of the processes and products of welding, and to test analytical models of the underlying mechanics. In this study we integrate 3D seismic reflection and borehole data from the Green Canyon Area of the northern Gulf of Mexico, USA to characterize the geophysical and geological expression of a tertiary weld, as well as its broader salt-tectonic context. These data show although it appears complete on seismic reflection data, the weld contains 124 ft (c. 38 m) of pure halite. This thickness is consistent with the predictions of analytical models, and with observations from other natural examples of subsurface welds. Our observations also support a model whereby compositional fractionation of salt occurs as the salt-tectonic system evolves; in this model, less mobile and/or denser units are typically stranded within the deeper, autochthonous level, trapped in primary welds, or stranded near the basal root of diapirs, whereas less viscous and/or less dense units form the cores of these diapirs and, potentially, genetically related allochthonous sheets and canopies. We also show that shearing of the weld during downslope translation of the overlying minibasin did not lead to complete welding.



Earth Sciences, Geology, Other Earth Sciences, Tectonics and Structure


salt tectonics, Gulf of Mexico, salt welding, salt


Published: 2021-07-30 18:14

Last Updated: 2021-10-07 16:26

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement:
There is no conflicts of interest to declare

Data Availability (Reason not available):
Data are confidential and only available on request from the data provider, BHP.

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