Early to middle Jurassic salt in Baltimore Canyon trough

Open-File Report 2004-1435

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A pervasive, moderately deep (5-6 s two-way traveltime), high-amplitude reflection is traced on multichannel seismic sections over an approximately 7500 km² area of Baltimore Canyon Trough. The layer associated with the reflection is about 25 km wide, about 60 m thick in the center, and thins monotonically laterally, though asymmetrically, at the edges. Geophysical characteristics are compatible with an interpretation of this negative-polarity reflector as a salt lens deposited on the top of a synrift evaporite sequence. However, alternative interpretations of the layer as gas-saturated sediments, an overpressured shale, or a weathered igneous intrusion are also worthy of consideration.

Geophysical analyses were made on three wavelet- and true-amplitude processed multichannel seismic dip lines. The lens-shaped layer demarked by the reflection has a velocity of 4.4 km/s; the lens lies within strata having velocities of 5.3 to 5.7 km/s. A trough marking the onset of the lens has an amplitude that is 10 to 20 db greater than reflections from the encasing layers and an apparent reflection coefficient of -0.24. Using amplitude versus offset analysis methods, we determined that observed reflection coefficients, though variable, decrease consistently with respect to increasing offset. Linear inversion yields a low density, about 2.2 g/cc. Integration of one of the true-amplitude-processed lines and one-dimensional modeling of the layer provide data on the impedance contrast and interference patterns that further reinforce the salt lens interpretation.

The thin, horizontal salt lens was probably deposited or precipitated during the Jurassic in a shallow, narrow (peripheral) rift basin, as rifting progressed down the North Atlantic margin. Unlike thicker deposits in other areas that deformed and flowed, often into diapir structures, this thin lens has remained relatively undisturbed since deposition.

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Early to middle Jurassic salt in Baltimore Canyon trough
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Open-File Report
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Online only, Version 1.0
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U.S. Geological Survey
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