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Detailed mapping of the distribution of vertical displacement (throw) over the planes of a number of growth faults in the Gulf of Mexico has revealed anomalous patterns that are characterized by subhorizontal minima. The subhorizontal arrangement of the anomalies is inconsistent with models of fault growth that require uniform slip distributions in conjunction with radial tip-line propagation at each slip event. An alternative model is presented whereby evolution of a fault is established by linkage between precursor fault segments in the slip direction. Overlap and linkage of fault tips in the slip direction result in relay structures that are subparallel to fault strike and therefore subhorizontal on normal faults. Relay structures orthogonal to the slip direction are likely to have a low preservation potential and will be poorly resolved on cross-sectional seismic profiles. However, their associated low displacements leave a strong signature in the fault displacement fields.

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