Styles of Salt Tectonics in the Sab’atayn Basin, Onshore Yemen

  • Gabor TariEmail author
  • Rudi Dellmour
  • Emma Rodgers
  • Chloe Asmar
  • Peter Hagedorn
  • Adel Salman
Part of the Frontiers in Earth Sciences book series (FRONTIERS)


A variety of distinct salt tectonic features are present in the Sab’atayn Basin of western Yemen. Based on the interpretation of regional 2D seismic reflection data and exploration wells in the central part of the basin, an Upper Jurassic evaporite formation produced numerous salt rollers, pillows, reactive, flip-flop and falling diapirs. Due to regional extension, halokinetics began as soon as the early Cretaceous, within just a few million years after the deposition of the Tithonian Sab’atayn evaporite sequence, by formation of salt rollers. The salt locally formed salt pillows which evolved to reactive and active salt diapirs and diapiric salt walls as the result of renewed, but low-strain extension in the basin. Some of the diapiric walls further evolved into falling diapirs due to ongoing extension. As the result of a prominent extensional episode at the end of the Cretaceous many of the diapiric walls in the basin are controlled by large normal faults on their updip flanks. As the post-Cretaceous sedimentary cover is largely missing in the study area, the assumed reactivation of salt structures during the Cenozoic remains poorly constrained. The interpreted changes in the style of salt tectonics in the Sab’atayn Basin offer a better understanding of the regional-scale tectonic development of the Arabian plate during the late Jurassic and Cretaceous.


Yemen Salt tectonics Seismic interpretation Rifting Diapirism Fractured basement 



The Petroleum Exploration and Production Authority of Yemen (PEPA) is acknowledged for the permission to publish this work. We appreciate the editorial patience of Francois Roure and the helpful and detailed reviews by two anonymous reviewers and Mustafa As-Saruri. The seismic interpretation technique named “Napoleon’s hat” was coined by Albert Bally and it was introduced to the first author of this paper in the late 1980s, in the context of mapping salt detachments in thrust-fold belts. Conversations about the pre-salt prospectivity of the Sab’atayn Basin with Alan Holmes, Michael Bierbaumer, Isabella Zabalza, Pascal Neff, Erika Angerer, Robert McDonald, Leo Kreczy and Shaista Sultan were helpful. DigitalGlobe is thanked for providing the high-resolution satellite image shown in Fig. 6. Peter Pernegr is thanked for drafting most of the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabor Tari
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rudi Dellmour
    • 1
  • Emma Rodgers
    • 1
  • Chloe Asmar
    • 1
  • Peter Hagedorn
    • 1
  • Adel Salman
    • 2
  1. 1.OMV Exploration and ProductionViennaAustria
  2. 2.OMV YemenSana’aYemen

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