Stress deflections around salt diapirs in the gulf of mexico
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Delta-deepwater fold-thrust belts are linked systems of extension and compression. Margin-parallel maximum horizontal stresses (extension) on the delta top are generated by gravitational collapse of accumulating sediment, and drive downdip margin-normal maximum horizontal stresses (compression) in the deepwater fold-thrust belt (or delta toe). This maximum horizontal stress rotation has been observed in a number of delta systems. Maximum horizontal stress orientations, determined from 32 petroleum wells in the Gulf of Mexico, are broadly margin-parallel on the delta top with a mean orientation of 060 and a standard deviation of 498. However, several orientations show up to 60° deflection from the regional margin-parallel orientation. Three-dimensional (3D) seismic data from the Gulf of Mexico delta top demonstrate the presence of salt diapirs piercing the overlying deltaic sediments. These salt diapirs are adjacent to wells (within 500 m) that demonstrate deflected stress orientations. The maximum horizontal stresses are deflected to become parallel to the interface between the salt and sediment. Two cases are presented that account for the alignment of maximum horizontal stresses parallel to this interface: (1) the contrast between geomechanical properties of the deltaic sediments and adjacent salt diapirs; and (2) gravitational collapse of deltaic sediments down the flanks of salt diapirs. © The Geological Society of London 2012.
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