Selected growth and interaction characteristics of seafloor faults in the central Mississippi Canyon Offshore Continental Shelf (OCS) area, northern Gulf of Mexico
Wegner, Scott Ashley
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The characteristics of some shallow faults in the Gulf of Mexico interpreted to be active are poorly understood. A better understanding of these faults will increase our understanding of formerly and presently active geologic processes in the Gulf. Specifically, the characteristics of growth, interaction, and linkage of faults are of interest. Most of the Gulf has seen continuous clastic sediment deposition since the end of continental rifting in the middle Mesozoic. The Gulf is a tectonically quiescent basin, with the only major structural processes being salt diapirism and subsidence. Numerous styles of faulting have been observed in the Gulf, with each style being related to a specific type of deformation. Numerous authors have concluded that fault growth processes generally involve tipline propagation and linkage of faults. Evidence of these processes has been observed in seismic data sets. This investigation uses a HR 3-D seismic data set to characterize growth, interaction, and linkage of a fault set in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This work shows that linked and interacting faults are present in the study area. These conclusions were reached using measurements of throw on horizons offset by several faults and interpreting the throw data using a model of fault growth and interaction based on separate processes of growth by tipline propagation and growth by linkage of smaller faults. The ratio of these parameters for a fault population can be described by a power law relationship. For the fault set considered here, the power law was found to be valid.