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April 2014 LGS Lunch Meeting

Carl Fiduk
“The Influence of Salt Structures and Salt Deformation on Petroleum Exploration in the Deep-water Northern Gulf of Mexico”
April 16
The Petroleum Club of Lafayette111 Heymann BlvdLafayette, Select a State: 70505  United States


Hydrocarbon exploration beneath the shallow allochthonous salt canopy of the ultra-deepwater central Gulf of Mexico has encountered three thick, sand-rich, submarine fan successions that punctuate an otherwise relatively condensed and fine-grained basin center stratigraphy. These sand-rich fans are Late Paleocene, Early Miocene, and Middle Miocene in age and each coincide with periods of very high sediment flux and basin margin instability. They are the primary exploration targets in most ultra-deepwater fields, recent discoveries, and failed exploration tests.

The underlying basement configuration contains the horsts and grabens of a rift basin setting. The deep parts of the rift became salt basins filled with the Jurassic Louann salt. During the Cretaceous, kilometers-thick salt nappes extruded from these basins onto the basin margins. The nappes may have coalesced to form a regional allochthonous salt nappe around the margin of the salt basins, similar to the modern Sigsbee Escarpment. Later clastic sedimentation caused deflation of the nappe leaving remnant salt structures behind. The remnant salt bodies form the core structures over which younger sand-rich fans are folded and draped.

Regional 3D PSDM data show that remnant salt bodies from the now deflated Cretaceous nappe form the core structure in fields at Chinook and Cascade and in recent discoveries at Stones, Das Bump, St. Malo, and Jack. Both seismic and well data show that the sand-rich outer fan of all three fan systems overlies the zone of salt nappe remnants. It would be a remarkable coincidence for the sandy outer fans of three different age depositional systems and the termination of two more widely separated (both temporally and spatially) allochthonous salt systems to stack vertically. The fact that they do suggests that both deep-water fan deposition and allochthonous salt emplacement were responding to a deeper structural control.


I have a B.S. and M.S. degree in Geology from the University of Florida. I have an M.B.A degree from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and a Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics from the University of Texas at Austin. I have worked for the USGS, Gulf Oil, Discovery Logging, the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, British Petroleum, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas, the University of Colorado, as a private consultant, and Chief Geologist for CGG and CGGVeritas. I am currently Chief Geologist for WesternGeco in Houston, TX.

My research interests cover coastal and shelfal clastic deposition, salt structural deformation and evolution, basin analysis, shelf margin to deep marine depositional processes, marine sedimentology, petroleum systems analysis, and the use of three-dimensional seismic data in petroleum exploration. I am currently involved in salt-sediment interaction research in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia, fluvial deltaic deposition in the Cretaceous Seaway of NW Colorado, and deep marine stratigraphic analysis in the Gulf of Mexico. I teach internal training classes on seismic interpretation and salt tectonics for WesternGeco and external industry courses for Nautilus U.S.A. and local geologic societies.

I am a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) #352532 and a Certified Petroleum Geologist #5367. I have served as a session chair at the 2001, 2004, 2008, 2010, and 2011 National Conventions. I was an invited speaker at the 1991, 1993, 2004, 2005, and 2010 conventions and at the 1999 and 2008 International conferences. I have also been invited to speak to the Moroccan Association of Petroleum Geologists (2007) and the Mexican Association of Petroleum Geologists (2008).

I am a member of the Houston Geological Society (HGS) #10461. I have been an alternate delegate for the HGS since 2004 and have sat as a voting representative four times. I served as a session chairman at the 2006 and 2012 GCAGS meetings. I co-instructed a short course in Deepwater Depositional Processes at the 2007 GCAGS meeting in Corpus Christi. I have been an invited speaker to the HGS dinner meetings in 1996 and in 2005. I have been an invited speaker to the New Orleans Geological Society (1999), the Southwest Research Institute (2001), the Costal Bend Geophysical Society & Corpus Christi Geological Society (2004), the HGS-PESGB 4th International Conference on African E & P (2005), the Lafayette Geological Society (2005), the New Orleans Geological Society (2006), the Dallas Geological Society (2007), and the Offshore Technology Conference (2010).

I am a member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) #148620 and a member of the Geophysical Society of Houston #10461. I served as a session chair at the 2009 National Convention.

I am a member of the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM) #43576 and a member of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM where I am the current president-elect. I have served on the Conference program advisory committee in 2005 and served as a session chair in 2005. I was an invited speaker at the 10th Annual Research Conference (1989), 24th Annual Research Conference (2004), and the 25th Annual Research Conference (2005).

In my 30+ years as a working geologist I have published 70+ peer-reviewed abstracts and papers.

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