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International Journal of Geophysics
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 1702164, 12 pages
Research Article

3D Gravity Modeling of Complex Salt Features in the Southern Gulf of Mexico

1Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Avenida Universidad No. 3000, CU, Coyoacán, 04510 Ciudad de México, DF, Mexico
2Instituto Mexicano del Petróleo, Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas No. 152, San Bartolo Atepehuacan, Gustavo A. Madero, 07730 Ciudad de México, DF, Mexico
3Programa de Perforaciones en Océanos y Continentes, Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 04510 Ciudad de México, DF, Mexico
4Centro de Desarrollo Aeroespacial, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Belisario Domínguez No. 22, 06010 Ciudad de México, DF, Mexico

Received 30 November 2015; Accepted 3 February 2016

Academic Editor: Robert Tenzer

Copyright © 2016 Mauricio Nava-Flores et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We present a three-dimensional (3D) gravity modeling and inversion approach and its application to complex geological settings characterized by several allochthonous salt bodies embedded in terrigenous sediments. Synthetic gravity data were computed for 3D forward modeling of salt bodies interpreted from Prestack Depth Migration (PSDM) seismic images. Density contrasts for the salt bodies surrounded by sedimentary units are derived from density-compaction curves for the northern Gulf of Mexico’s oil exploration surveys. By integrating results from different shape- and depth-source estimation algorithms, we built an initial model for the gravity anomaly inversion. We then applied a numerically optimized 3D simulated annealing gravity inversion method. The inverted 3D density model successfully retrieves the synthetic salt body ensemble. Results highlight the significance of integrating high-resolution potential field data for salt and subsalt imaging in oil exploration.