Abstract

The late Permian Zechstein evaporites in the northern Netherlands were exceptionally well imaged in 6500km2 of prestack depth migration 3D seismic data. Seismic reflections of a 30–150-m-thick Zechstein 3 anhydrite-carbonate stringer, which was encased in thick layers of rock salt, provided an unparalleled, basin-scale view of the 3D internal structure of a giant salt basin. Seismic data were used to map the regional variation of the intrasalt stringer to analyze its role in deformation styles and salt flow as well as its interaction with the sub- and suprasalt sediments. From our interpretation of the stringer, the salt layers, and the encasing sediments, three regional structural stringer styles can be defined and were analyzed in the context of regional salt kinematics. Our results revealed that the current stringer initially formed a continuous sheet of anhydrite and carbonate, embedded in salt of varying thickness. After the onset of syndepositional gravitational gliding of some of the salt masses and passive salt diapirism triggered by differential loading in the Triassic in other areas, salt flow caused rupture and folding of the stringer on a wide range of scales. The thickness and deformation degree of the individual salt layers controlled the development of regionally distinctive styles of intrasalt structures. Although deformation of the salt and the embedded stringer stopped early on morphologic highs, the basinal areas experienced phases of later activation or reactivation of salt structures and sedimentary basins. This was especially the case during the Late Cretaceous to Early Tertiary plate tectonic reorganization in the Central European plate, causing three-dimensionally complex intrasalt structures observable today.

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