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Published estimates for the original volume of Mid-Jurassic Louann evaporites found throughout the entire Gulf of Mexico Basin vary widely. Volume totals derived from both map data and actual volume numbers, range from about 10,500 km3 (2,500 mi3) to 839,000 km3 (200,000 mi3), an 80 fold variation. Little new information has been published during the past twenty-five years to address this disparity. But gaining knowledge of the present day volume of salt would be an important metric if debates concerning the origin of the salt and the nature of the Gulf of Mexico Basin during salt deposition are to be reconciled.

A methodology now exists to estimate more accurately and quantitatively the volume of salt present in a given area. Multiple, recent generations of 3-D seismic depth volumes in the offshore Gulf of Mexico require that salt velocities be inserted. This vital processing step includes a systematic picking and interpretation of the tops and bases of all salt bodies encountered. The resulting models of salt velocity allow salt volume in the 3-D data sets to be calculated. Combining the salt volumes calculated from multiple seismic surveys offers new stratigraphic insights across large portions of the original salt basin.

A comparison of salt volumes derived from seismic data cubes and volumes derived from published maps can now be made. The comparisons should give some suggestion as to the accuracy of the map data. By extrapolation it should also give a more accurate and quantitative estimation of the original salt volume deposited in the Gulf of Mexico basin.

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