Experimental and natural examples illustrate the influence of sub-salt horizon basement faults on diapirism. In a series of experimental models, viscous diapirs were observed to form above or close to basement faults. In all the models, basement faults initiated a half-graben, where thicker overburden units enhanced differential loading on an underlying buoyant layer. The buoyant material flowed updip to the low-pressure zones in the uplifted block, and updip along the tilted upper boundary of the hanging-wall. Basement faulting extended the overburden, and provided the space through which the buoyant layer could rise. Subsidence and faulting of overburden layers allowed diapirism along the faulted zones. In all cases, the deformation in the overburden was accommodated within a wider zone of faulting than the discrete basement fault which initiated the deformation. Differential compaction enhances differential loading and accumulation of thicker overburden on the downthrown sides of basement faults.
Seismic profiles from the Danish Basin, Dutch Central Graben, Gulf of Mexico and North Sea show that diapirs are spatially associated with basement faults. However, model results show that diapirs triggered by basement faults are not necessarily located directly above the faults.
Basement faults extend the cover sequences. If detached from the cover by a ductile layer, thick-skinned extension is accompanied by thin-skinned extension and decoupling of the cover. The influence of basement faults on diapirs depends on: the thickness and effective viscosity of the ductile layer (e.g. rock salt); the thickness ratio between the buoyant layer and the overburden; the mechanical properties of the brittle cover in the case of clastic sediments; the rate of sedimentation; the displacement rate throw and the dip of the basement faults.
1993. Vol. 16, no 3, 285-312 p.