Mass-transport complexes (MTCs) document minibasin subsidence patterns and diapir evolution in the northern Gulf of Mexico

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Nan Wu , Christopher Aiden-Lee Jackson , Howard D. Johnson, David Hodgson, Harya Dwi Nugraha 


Mass-transport complexes (MTCs) dominate many salt-influenced sedimentary basins. Commonly in such settings, halokinesis is invoked as the primarily trigger for MTC emplacement. Despite being very well-imaged in seismic reflection data, we know little of how MTCs vary in terms of their sedimentological character, which may relate to their provenance, or their triggers. We use high-quality 3D seismic reflection and well data to study MTCs preserved in a salt-confined, supra-canopy minibasin in the northern Gulf of Mexico to interpret six MTCs that together constitute >60% of the minibasin-fill volume. We define three main tectono-sedimentary phases in the development of the minibasin: (1) initial minibasin subsidence and passive diapirism, during which time deposition was dominated by relatively large-volume MTCs (c. 25 km3) derived from the shelf-edge or upper slope; (2) minibasin margin uplift and steepening, during which time small-volume MTCs (c. 20 km3), derived from the shelf-edge or upper slope, were emplaced; and (3) diapir burial and late-stage active diapirism, during which time very small volume MTCs (c. 1 km3) were emplaced, locally derived from minibasin flanks or their roofs. We present a generic model that emphasises the dynamic nature of minibasin evolution, and how MTC emplacement relates to halokinetic sequence development. Although based on a data-rich case study, our model may be applicable to other MTC-rich, salt-influenced sedimentary basins.



Earth Sciences, Geology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Sedimentology, Social and Behavioral Sciences


Gulf of Mexico, MTCs, Salt mini-basins evolution


Published: 2019-08-08 03:14

Last Updated: 2019-12-16 09:37

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