Abstract

The triggers and drivers for salt-related deformation on continental margins are intensely debated, reflecting uncertainties regarding the diagnostic value of certain structural styles, in addition to the fundamental mechanics associated with the two principal mechanisms (gliding and spreading). Determining the triggers and drivers for salt-related deformation is important because they provide insights into continent-scale geodynamic processes, the regional kinematics of gravity-driven deformation, and sediment dispersal and hydrocarbon prospectivity. The processes associated with and the timing of deformation of Messinian salt in the offshore Eastern Mediterranean are uncertain, and thus so is our understanding of the geodynamic evolution of this tectonically complex region. We here use an extensive 2D and 3D seismic reflection dataset to test models for the salt-tectonic development of Messinian salt. We contend that gliding and spreading were not mutually exclusive, but were likely to have overlapped in time and space, being associated with local and far-field tectonics (gliding), as well as differential overburden loading (spreading). We also argue that intrasalt strain and seismic-stratigraphic patterns can be explained by a model invoking a single, post-Messinian period of salt-related deformation, rather than a more complex model involving two separate deformation events that occurred during and after salt deposition.

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