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Oil and Gas | Structure and Tectonics

Salt Tectonics: Global Styles, Spanish Outcrops (Basque-Cantabrian Pyrenees, Spain)

Course Code: N232
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
5 days

Next Event

Location: Basque-Cantabrian Pyrenees, Spain
Date:  5 - 9 Sep. 2022
Start Time: 09:00 CEDT
Event Code: N232a22F
Fee From: GBP £6,770 (exc. Tax)


Business Impact: Participants will develop an understanding of global salt tectonics and its practical application to petroleum exploration, production, and storage.

In the Basque-Cantabrian Pyrenees, both field exposures and seismic data illustrate thick- and thin-skinned salt structures, extensional and contractional diapirs, halokinetic deformation involving turbidites, and allochthonous salt, in a passive-margin setting subsequently subjected to convergent-margin tectonics. This course covers the fundamentals of salt-related deformation and salt tectonic styles around the world, and includes global seismic interpretation exercises.


"Great course - I would recommend it to all experience levels in salt tectonics. Everyone can take something away from the course! I also really enjoyed the Bakio Salt Diapir with its interaction between salt and turbidites."


Event Code: N232a22F
Duration: 5 days
Instructors: Mark Rowan, Josep Anton Munoz
Dates: 5 - 9 Sep. 2022
Start Time: 09:00 CEDT
Location: Basque-Cantabrian Pyrenees, Spain
Fee From
GBP £6,770 (exc. Tax)
Limited Availability
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Duration and Training Method

This is a combined field and classroom course, in a 50:50 ratio. Classroom sessions will comprise lectures, global case studies, and seismic interpretation exercises.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Characterise the depositional and tectonic settings of layered evaporite sequences.
  2. Understand the influence of different modes of salt tectonics on intrasalt deformation.
  3. Assess the role of salt in different tectonic environments including rift basins, passive margins and convergent margins.
  4. Evaluate salt structures developed or reactivated during extension, contraction and strike-slip deformation.
  5. Appraise and interpret the stratal geometries associated with salt evacuation and passive diapirism.
  6. Predict near-diapir stratal geometries and their impact on reservoir distribution.
  7. Characterise allochthonous salt geometries on seismic data and evaluate the nature of subsalt deformation.
  8. Evaluate the interaction between salt-related deformation and sedimentation in different depositional environments, from fluvial to deepwater.
  9. Appraise the likely influence of salt bodies and salt welds on hydrocarbon generation and migration and top seal for hydrocarbons and hydrogen.

Classroom modules will address the theory of salt-related deformation, compare to field analogues from elsewhere in the world, and review subsurface data and interpretation from major petroleum basins. Examples include the North Sea, Precaspian Basin, Persian Gulf and Zagros Mountains, eastern Mediterranean, offshore West Africa, offshore Brazil, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Lectures will cover: the tectonic setting of salt basins and the nature of layered evaporite sequences; the mechanics of salt movement; intrasalt deformation; extensional and contractional salt tectonics; salt evacuation and diapirism; near-diapir deformation; the emplacement and evolution of allochthonous salt; salt-sediment interaction; the impact of salt on hydrocarbon maturation, migration and seal.

Field modules will focus on those Cantabrian examples where there is the widest variety of salt styles and sediments. Depositional environments include sub-aerial, shelf clastics and carbonates, and deepwater turbidites. Diapirs were triggered during extension, grew passively, and show different degrees of reactivation during the Pyrenean contractional event. Field examples will be supplemented by seismic and well data over mildly reactivated diapirs offshore in the adjoining Bay of Biscay and over onshore Cantabrian salt structures where they are the focus of research programs for gas storage, carbon sequestration, and hydrogen storage. Cantabria is one of the few areas in Spain in which oil exploration is still active and storage opportunities are being pursued.


Day 0:

Arrive in Bilbao.

Group introductions, safety briefing, and introductory lectures.

Day 1:

Full day lectures interspersed with global seismic exercises. Topics include: evaporite basins; fundamentals of salt tectonics (mechanics, drives, definitions); intrasalt deformation; dissolution of salt; thin- and thick-skinned extensional salt tectonics; translational salt tectonics.

Day 2:

Full day field excursion to Poza de la Sal diapir – Triassic evaporites, contact with overlying strata, initiation mechanism and deformation in surrounding shallow water siliciclastics and carbonates. Includes discussion of local studies on intrasalt storage of carbon or hydrogen.

Day 3:

Morning lectures interspersed with seismic exercises. Topics include: thin-and thick-skinned contractional salt tectonics; strike-slip salt tectonics; vertical salt tectonics (salt evacuation and diapirism); passive diapirism.

Afternoon field excursion to Villasana de Mena diapir - near diapir deformation and stratal geometries.

Day 4:

Full day field excursion to examine halokinetic deformation surrounding the Bakio diapir: Diapir interior and margins, flanking deformation of adjacent deepwater turbidites and outer-shelf marlstones, major failure of the diapir-roof carbonate platform (debrites and olistoliths), unconformities and onlap. Includes mid-day lecture on halokinetic sequences.

Day 5:

Morning lectures: Allochthonous salt, restoration of salt structures; salt and the petroleum system (trap, reservoir, hydrocarbon maturation and migration, seal), wrap-up.

Afternoon field excursion to Sopela beach and summary of Basque-Cantabrian Pyrenees structure and salt tectonics.

Day 6:

Depart from Bilbao.

Geoscientists and reservoir engineers conducting petroleum exploration/production or investigating resource/waste storage in areas affected by salt tectonics.

Josep Anton Munoz

Josep Anton Muñoz is professor of structural geology at the University of Barcelona, director of the Geomodels Research Institute and head of the Geodynamics and Basin Analysis Research Group.

He worked for the Servei Geològic de Catalunya from 1985 to 1990, when he joined the University of Barcelona. His research interests include the structure of sedimentary basins in different tectonic settings (contractional, extensional and strike slip), tectonics of orogenic systems, tectono-sedimentary relationships, salt tectonics, and construction and validation of 3-D structural models. He has mostly worked in the Pyrenees, but also in many other areas such as the Andes, Western Mediterranean, Antarctica and Zagros Mountains. His research is based on field studies and their integration with seismic and well data. He has led the development of new methodologies for the 3D construction of structural models ant their validation combining numerical and analogue models. Hi has conducted many research projects and courses (both field and indoor) for oil companies and international research institutions.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Barcelona
MSc University of Barcelona - Geology

Courses Taught
N142: Structure and Fault Systems in Hydrocarbon Exploration (Southern Pyrenees, Spain)
N232: Salt Tectonics: Global Styles, Spanish Outcrops (Basque-Cantabrian Pyrenees, Spain)
N325: Advanced Structural Interpretation for Petroleum Exploration and Development in Fold and Thrust belts

Eduard Roca

Dr. Eduard Roca possesses over 25 years of industrial and academic experience. After graduating Eduard completed a PhD thesis in collaboration with the Institut Français du Pétrole on the structure of the Valencia Trough (Western Mediterranean).

In 1992, Eduard spent a year working at the Institut Français du Pétrole as a research fellow. While in Paris, Eduard conducted research into hydrocarbon exploration in the Outer Carpathians, paying special attention on the relationships between thrusting and the pre-existing structure.

At the beginning of 1993, Eduard rejoined the University of Barcelona, where he has remained since, first as an assistant, then in 2002 as a professor of Structural Geology in the Department of Geodynamics and Geophysics.  During this time, he has taught undergraduates and graduates structural geology, basin analysis and geological cartography, and advised graduate students in structural geology, basin analysis, 3D geological reconstructions and salt tectonic projects. Often in collaboration with oil companies, Eduard’s research projects have been drawn from Europe, South America and North Africa. Also, since 2002, Eduard has conducted training courses on structural geology and salt tectonics for Total, Repsol and the Nautilus Geoscience Training Alliance.

Present-day Eduard’s primary interests are salt and inversion tectonics although he continues working in 3D reservoir reconstructions, tectono-sedimentary relationships and the characterization of extensional and contractional fault systems.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Barcelona, Catalonia - Geology
BSc University of Barcelona, Catalonia - Geology

Courses Taught
N142: Structure and Fault Systems in Hydrocarbon Exploration (Southern Pyrenees, Spain)
N232: Salt Tectonics: Global Styles, Spanish Outcrops (Basque-Cantabrian Pyrenees, Spain)

Mark Rowan

Mark  has worked in or with industry for over 35 years as an exploration geologist with Sohio (1982-1985); as a consultant with GeoLogic Systems (1985-1989) and Alastair Beach Assoc. in Scotland (1989-1992); as a research professor at the University of Colorado (1992-1998); and finally as President of Rowan Consulting in Boulder since 1998.

Mark focuses on salt tectonics through a combination of consulting projects in salt basins worldwide, teaching for RPS Training (formerly Nautilus) and the industry, and conducting field work in salt basins with colleagues from the several universities. He has over 100 published papers and over 240 published abstracts. He is the recipient of the GCSSEPM Doris M. Curtis Medal and the AAPG Robert J. Berg Outstanding Research Award.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Colorado at Boulder - Structural Geology
MS Berkeley College - Geology
BA Caltech - Biology
AAPG Distinguished Lecturer (2005-2006)
AAPG International Distinguished Instructor (2009-2010)

Courses Taught
N043:  Gulf of Mexico Petroleum Systems
N071:  Workshop in Geological Seismic Interpretation: Salt Tectonics
N149:  Practical Salt Tectonics
N232:  Salt Tectonics: Global Styles, Spanish Outcrops (Basque-Cantabrian Pyrenees, Spain)

CEU: 4 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
RPS is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU. We comply with the ANSI/IACET Standard, which is recognised internationally as a standard of excellence in instructional practices.
We issue a Certificate of Attendance which verifies the number of training hours attended. Our courses are generally accepted by most professional licensing boards/associations towards continuing education credits. Please check with your licensing board to determine if the courses and certificate of attendance meet their specific criteria.