Abundant three-dimensional (3-D) seismic data from salt provinces have been acquired over the past two decades. These data have been interpreted partly using concepts based on analysis of two-dimensional (2-D) sections through physical and numerical models. Three-dimensional computer visualization of physical models is a recent development that exploits the full potential of model data by displaying even highly irregular geological structures such as convolute salt contacts, strata disrupted by salt tectonics, discontinuous faults, and bedding traces on fault surfaces.

We used computer visualization techniques to display and analyze a physical model simulating salt-related structures produced during gravity spreading and gliding. The visualization shows, in realistic 3-D detail, that (1) structures change seaward from tall steep-sided diapirs to squat salt rollers; (2) salt walls change markedly along strike and form branches and relays; (3) subsidence of underlying salt ridges produces irregular turtle-structure closures that tend to have multiple seals; (4) links that laterally connect reservoirs in adjacent rafts are most common in upper stratigraphic levels and seaward positions; and (5) traps adjacent to curved salt walls in map view become increasingly asymmetric with depth, and inner arc traps tend to have smaller area but larger closure compared to outer arc traps. These observations can be applied to exploration of salt-related structural traps on the shelf and slope of divergent continental margins.

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