Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Earth and Environmental Sciences


Geology and Geophysics

Major Professor

Abu K. M. Sarwar PhD

Second Advisor

Mark A. Kulp PhD

Third Advisor

Michael G. Fitzgerald PhD


Sub-salt oil and gas formations in deep-water northern Gulf of Mexico are high priority targets. Advances in seismic processing allow for high-resolution, below-salt imaging. Understanding the modes of salt emplacement provide insight into sub-salt traps and potential drilling hazards.

A sub-salt sedimentary unit lies in the Keathley Canyon protraction. Autosutures created the transport-parallel lineaments of the upper surface of the unit. In addition, highly variable sediment aggradation rates created ramps, flats, and basal cutoffs along the base of the allochthon as salt and sediment competed for space. Seismic models identify modes of salt emplacement, salt/sediment interactions, and mechanisms responsible for the morphology.

Petrophysical assessments highlight an abnormally pressured, dirty salt environment transitioning into a gouge zone. Dirty salt adds an element of difficulty to managing borehole pressures requiring a unique mud-weight plan designed to resist formation pressures without fracturing lithology.


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