A simplified stress analysis of rising salt domes
M. Heidari, M.A. Nikolinakou, P.B. Flemings and M.R. Hudec
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 29, No 3, June 2017 pp. 363 - 376
Info: Article, PDF ( 963.48Kb )
We use a simple analytical model to estimate the stress field in density-driven, rising salt domes and adjacent sediments, and to describe the evolution of these domes. We show that the pressure exerted by the salt pushing out against its wall rocks (the salt pressure) decreases linearly up the flank of the dome, but is always greater than the overburden stress. In fact, the salt pressure normal to the dome boundary is everywhere the maximum principal stress, whereas the hoop stress parallel to the circumference of the dome is the minimum stress. In addition, we quantitatively describe the critical stages of salt dome evolution (initiation, upbuilding, and downbuilding), relating these stages to sedimentation rate and basin thickness. This analysis also shows that even the highest sedimentation rates are unlikely to accumulate enough sediments to bury downbuilding domes as long as the salt supply is unrestricted. Despite the simplicity of the model, its predictions are in good agreement with field observations near salt domes. Overall, our analytical model can provide critical insight into the stress field perturbation in and near rising salt domes and can be used to assess the accuracy of numerical models and field measurements near these domes.