Abstract

The dominant salt body at Gemini Prospect, Gulf of Mexico, has been analyzed by seismic methods, revealing a complex 3D salt volume at depths 1 to 5 km beneath the mud line. Because of the high contrast in electrical conductivity between the salt and surrounding sediments, Gemini is an attractive target for electromagnetic interrogation. Using a broadband magnetotelluric (MT) sensor package developed at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, data in the period band of 1 to 3000 s were collected at 42 sites in a series of profiles over Gemini, one of which was directly over a linear ridgelike salt feature striking roughly northwest–southeast and another orthogonal to it. These two profiles reveal that the strongest MT response arises when the electric field is oriented northeast–southwest.

We test the suitability of 2D inversion of these data for recovering the true salt structure by examining inversions of both actual data and synthetic 3D MT responses derived from the seismically inferred salt volume. Occam inversions of the northeast–southwest component result in resistivity images that generally agree with the seismic data, whereas inversions of the complementary component yield significantly poorer fidelity. Disagreement is greatest (1–2 km) along the salt sides and base. Depth errors for top of salt are less than 500 m. Although thin, deep salt (< 1 km thick at 5 km depth) is not well resolved, the inversions reveal a resistive basement and a shallow subseabed environment rich in electrical heterogeneity that is weakly, if at all, suggested by the seismic data. A notable exception is a correlation between a previously uninterpreted seismic reflector and the base of a shallow resistivity anomaly whose presence is consistent with gas accumulation near the hydrate stability zone.

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