Abstract

This study presents the results from the interpretation of an extensive and recent regional two-dimensional seismic survey focused on the understanding of the salt tectonics in the western Gulf of Cadiz (GoC). Two different salt units were identified: an autochthonous salt unit of the Late Triassic or the Early Jurassic (Hettangian) and an allochthonous unit that originated from the Hettangian salt. Interpretation of the pattern of distribution of the salt in the basin allowed subdivision of the area of study into three distinct salt domains: the eastern domain characterized by the presence of a conspicuous allochthonous salt nappe (Esperança Salt), the central domain dominated by salt diapirs with mild deformation of Miocene strata and wide salt-withdrawal minibasins, and the southwestern domain where present-day tectonics induces impressive salt deformation affecting the sea floor. This complex pattern is mainly the result of the interaction of inherited basement structure, complex tectonic history, and stress regime of the basin. The intense halokinesis observed has created several salt-related trap geometries and fluid migration pathways. As the focus of worldwide exploration along passive margins is gradually shifting to deep-water regions, the western GoC has the potential to become a deep-water petroleum province in the near future.

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