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Salt–sediment interplay in the Santos Basin is investigated integrating seismic interpretation, kinematic restoration and analogue modelling. Deformation within the post-salt sequence results from thin-skinned gravitational gliding and spreading, driven primarily by halokinesis, greatly affected by massive sediment inflows. The impressive landward-dipping listric Cabo Frio Fault controls the major depocentres updip, whereas salt-cored folds accommodate downdip shortening. Sediment supply from confluent directions creates a complex interference pattern of superposed folds with intervening polygonal minibasins. A new structure is identified (termed the ‘Ilha Grande Gravitational Cell’), a linked system of updip extension and downdip contraction detached on salt, comprising the Cabo Frio Fault and minibasins. It moves to the SE, with eastern and western borders suggesting lateral gradients of slippage. This thin-skinned feature results from the differential load imposed by a thick prograding wedge over the ductile salt and is independent of pre-salt structures. The post-salt sequence moves basinwards due to halokinesis, thereby changing position relative to the pre-salt sequence, which implies that any present-day correspondence between pre- and post-salt structures may not attest to linkage in the past. Application of kinematic restoration techniques allows the true position and geometry of the key elements through time, improving petroleum systems assessment.

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