In this study, we examine, using seismic data in conjunction with numerical modeling, a regional-scale salt detachment and associated synkinematic sediments from the Scotian margin, offshore eastern Canada. This part of the Scotian margin is characterized by an up to 4.5-km (2.8-mi)-thick and approximately 175-km (108-mi)-long synkinematic wedge of Jurassic sediments with internal sigmoidal, landward-dipping reflectors. The synkinematic wedge is laterally extensive, encompassing an area of approximately 30,000 km2 (11,600 mi2), and soles into an interpreted salt detachment.

The Jurassic synkinematic wedge, which is interpreted to have formed as an open-ended allochthonous salt nappe, was loaded by prograding sediments during the Jurassic. This loading squeezed the salt seaward and caused the overlying sediments to undergo extension and gravity spreading and gliding, detaching on the salt sheet. The open-ended nappe model provides a mechanism for producing a large amount of extension with very little compensating contraction.

Numerical model results indicate that high rates of extension, detaching on even a thin salt layer, can result in similar sigmoidal, landward-dipping strata. Based on the numerical modeling and seismic interpretation results, we propose a new conceptual model for the Jurassic–Paleogene structural evolution of the study area; this model may also have implications for other passive-margin salt basins with regional salt detachments.

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