Salt Tectonics and Basin Evolution in the Gabon Coastal Basin, West Africa
- Received Date: 2017-03-02
- Accepted Date: 2017-03-02
- Available Online: 2017-03-02
Abstract: The Gabon Coastal Basin is a typical saliferous basin located in the middle portion of the West African passive continental margin. Complex salt tectonics make sedimentary sequences and structural frameworks difficult to interpret and can lead to difficulties in construction of balanced cross-sections and reconstruction of basin evolutionary processes. Sedimentary facies and salt structural patterns displaying zonation are based on seismic reflection profiles and drilling data. Two near-vertical fault systems, NW-SE and NE-SW, caused basin to be subdivided E-W zoning and N-S partitioning. Scarp slopes and extension faults formed in the Hinge belt III zone where salt diapir piercement occurred and numbers of salt pillars, salt stocks and salt rollers developed under transtension of coupled near-orthogonal fault systems. The zone east of Hinge belt III is characterized by small-scale salt domes and salt pillows. To the west are large-scale salt walls and salt bulge anticlines caused by diapirism promoted by tension and torsion that also resulted in formation of numerous salt pillars, salt stocks and salt rollers. Our modeling of salt tectonic structures indicates that they were produced by plastic rheological deformation of salt under regional stress fields that varied during three distinct phases of extension, compression and re-activation. Hinge belt III was active from Coniacian to Early Eocene, which was a critical period of formation of salt structures when many extension-related salt structures formed and salt diapirism controlled the distribution of turbidite fans. Rootless extrusion-related salt stocks developed throughout the Late Eocene to Early Oligocene as a result of local ephemeral low-intensity tectonic inversion. Post Oligocene salt diapirism was weak and salt tectonics had a weak influence on sedimentation. Balanced cross-sections of two saliferous horizons crossing different tectonic units from east to west reveal that the basin tectonic evolution and sediment filling processes can be divided into three stages containing seven episodes of rifting, transition and drifting.