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Abstract

Over the last few years, the introduction of linked fault models has revolutionized our ability to use industry reflection seismic data in the interpretation of structures developed in extensional basins. The subsidence history of basins or grabens used to monitor crustal extension (the Beta factor) is generally incompatible with that measured from the ubiquitous steep normal faults often interpreted on seismic or field data. The fault systems must reflect a mechanical system that can permit upper crustal extension to match crustal thinning derived from subsidence data.

An extensional fault system must comprise steep fault segments (ramps) which join shallow or sub-horizontal detachments (flats) in the extension or slip direction, both of which are compartmentalized by linked transfers or sidewalls. Linked systems may be small enough to be measured in meters or large enough to involve the entire crust, and per-haps the lithosphere. The detailed geometry and sequence of movement on the linked system directly controls the dip and strike development of the sedimentary fill, its facies, and the second-order faulting within the sediments. Conversely, the linked fault geometry and its movement history can be deduced by applying balanced-section techniques to the stratigraphic section, first in two dimensions (2D) and then in three dimensions (3D). This allows either structure or stratigraphy to be predicted in a systematic way from a knowledge of the other.

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