Abstract

Syndepositional deformation in salt-influenced rift basins is complex, being driven by a combination of normal faulting and the growth of salt structures such as diapirs. Owing to a lack of data with which to simultaneously constrain basin structure and synrift stratigraphic architecture, we have a poor understanding of how these processes control shallow-marine deposition in such settings. To improve our understanding we here use seismic reflection and borehole data from the Norwegian Central North Sea to investigate the role that syndepositional fault growth and salt movement played in controlling the sub-regional stratigraphic architecture of a net-transgressive shallow-marine synrift succession (Middle to Late Jurassic). The rift-related structural framework, which is usually dominated by normal fault-bound horst and graben, is strongly modified where an Upper Permian salt layer (Zechstein Supergroup) is sufficiently thick and mobile to act as an intra-stratal detachment, giving rise to decoupled rift-related basement and cover structural styles. Furthermore, cover extension allows the salt to rise diapirically, resulting in the formation of large salt diapirs and supra-salt normal faults formed owing to late-stage salt withdrawal and diapir collapse. Rift-related normal faulting and the growth of salt structures had a dual control on the depositional thickness and facies distribution within the net-transgressive, predominantly shallow-marine, Middle to Upper Jurassic synrift succession. The resulting facies architecture reflects a delicate balance between fault- and salt flow-driven accommodation creation and intra- and extra-basinal sediment supply. Where sediment supply and accumulation rate exceeded accommodation, little or no change in facies is observed across syndepositional structures. In contrast, where accommodation outpaced sediment supply and accumulation rate, footwall-attached shorelines locally developed adjacent to large, thick-skinned normal faults, with deeper water conditions persisting in the adjacent hanging wall. Flooding of structural elements was strongly diachronous and influenced by the underlying rift-related topography, which was characterized by intra-basinal horst and graben. This paper highlights the key role that salt plays in modifying the tectonostratigraphic evolution of rift basins, suggesting that existing models, based on salt-free structural templates, need to be modified.

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