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Shale Tectonics, Texas Coastal Area Growth Faults

C.H. Bruce
C.H. Bruce
Mobil Research and Development Corporation
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January 01, 1983


The terms growth, contemporaneous, synsedimentary, and syndepositional have been used interchangeably to denote faults that formed simultaneously with sediment deposition. These faults are characterized by thickening of sediment on the downthrown side, where rollover (reverse drag) is common. Although several mechanisms, such as basement tectonics, deep salt or shale movement, slump across flexures, or slump at the shelf edge are often cited as causes for growth faults, the mechanisms that appear to have formed most structures in the southern and central Texas Coastal Area are differential compaction and gravitational sliding resulting from differential sediment loading.

In coastal Texas, where thick sections of high pressure shale are present in the deep Tertiary section and where salt diapirism is not dominant, extensive growth fault systems are developed that extend for several miles subparallel with the coast. The relation of these growth fault systems to the underlying thick high pressure shale section and the pre-Tertiary surface is illustrated in a diagrammatic cross section of the northern Gulf of Mexico basin (Figure 1). A seismic line (Figure 2; see also Figure 2 location map) illustrates three Miocene growth fault systems that are present under the continental shelf offshore from the central Texas Coastal area. These fault systems, along with scattered relatively small post-depositional faults, are characteristic of many structures found in this part of the Texas Coastal area. Growth fault systems 1 and 2 are typical of faults that are downthrown basinward.

Fault system 3 exemplifies faults formed primarily through gravitational sliding. Fault systems formed in this manner usually consist of one or more major faults that are downthrown basinward and are accompanied by several antithetic (adjustment) faults.

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AAPG Studies in Geology

Seismic Expression of Structural Styles: A Picture and Work Atlas. Volume 1–The Layered Earth, Volume 2–Tectonics Of Extensional Provinces, & Volume 3–Tectonics Of Compressional Provinces

A. W. Bally
A. W. Bally
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 1983




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