High heat flow anomalies over salt structures on the Texas Continental Slope, Gulf of Mexico

Seiichi Nagihara, John G. Sclater, Lila M. Beckley, E. William Behrens, Lawrence A. Lawver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We made 74 closely spaced (< 2 km apart) heat flow measurements around and over two salt structures on the Texas continental slope, Gulf of Mexico. The values outlined the shape of the heat flow anomalies over both structures. Based on a preceding high resolution seismic survey, we interpreted these structures to be a cylindrical plug and a salt tongue extending from the crest of a wall‐shaped feeder. The heat flow observations clearly reflect differences between the two features and are consistent with the prior structural interpretation. The values over the salt plug are nearly all greater than 70 mW/m². The measurements over the salt tongue have a sharp heat flow peak of 90 mW/m² associated with the presumed feeder and rather uniform values around 60 mW/m² over the remainder. The variation of heat flow over both structures is smooth and shows no apparent scatter. Heat flow values off these features are uniformly low, around 30 mW/m². Thermal effects from bottom water temperature fluctuation, slope sedimentation, diapiric movement of the salt body, and pore fluid migration appear unable to provide a satisfactory explanation for the observations. However, thickness variations of a highly conductive salt body can easily account for the heat flow anomalies. We suggest that modeling of the conductive anomaly should provide substantial constraints on the bottom geometry of the salt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1687-1690
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 21 1992


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