Abstract:

Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) imaging is a powerful technique that is increasingly used to extract detailed 3D information on Earth surface structures, including exposed diapiric surfaces. We have used InSAR to map, for the first time, the cumulative surface deformation in a 6 km × 6 km region surrounding an active salt diapir (Syahoo) and its associated surface salt flow (or namakier) exposed in the Zagros Mountains of southern Iran. Images provided by the European Space Agency were acquired in 12 increments (ranging in length between 35 and 1248 days) over a 14 year interval between July 1992 and May 2006. The deformation of the salt surface is non-steady, with (extrapolated) rates of displacement varying between surficial uplifts of +1.4 mm day−1 (+511 mm a−1) and subsidence of −2.2 mm day−1 (−803 mm a−1). Growth of a central topographic dome occurs following short wet intervals to create a salt fountain morphology, which then slowly decays during the intervening long dry periods. Salt associated with dynamic ‘bulging' of the central dome during wet intervals may flow laterally via gravity spreading into the surrounding salt sheet, resulting in deflation and subsidence of the dome, which is counteracted by growth and inflation of the adjacent namakiers. Salt ‘bulges' that migrate down the namakier, resulting in local inflationary and deflationary cycles of the surface, may be regarded as episodic pulses of gravity spreading. Areas of inflation and deflation are also observed to commonly reverse during dry to wet periods, as the overall salt system effectively self regulates as it continually strives for dynamic equilibrium. As long as the source of salt remains undepleted, gravity spreading of the dome ultimately results in more buoyancy-driven salt flowing up the diapiric neck to replenish and feed the extrusion and maintain the gross fountain morphology.

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