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Abstract

Allochthonous salt structures and associated primary and secondary minibasins are exposed in Neoproterozoic strata of the eastern Willouran Ranges, South Australia. Detailed geologic mapping using high-quality airborne hyperspectral remote-sensing data and satellite imagery, combined with a qualitative structural restoration, are used to elucidate the evolution of this complex, long-lived (>250 Myr) salt system. Field observations and interpretations at a resolution unobtainable from seismic or well data provide a means to test published models of allochthonous salt emplacement and associated salt-sediment interaction derived from subsurface data in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Salt diapirs and sheets are represented by megabreccias of nonevaporite lithologies that were originally interbedded with evaporites that have been dissolved and/or altered. Passive diapirism began shortly after deposition of the Callanna Group layered evaporite sequence. A primary basin containing an expulsion-rollover structure and megaflap is flanked by two vertical diapirs. Salt flowed laterally from the diapirs to form a complex, multi-level canopy, now partly welded, containing an encapsulated minibasin and capped by suprasalt basins. Salt and minibasin geometries were modified during the Late Cambrian–Ordovician Delamerian Orogeny (ca. 500 Ma). Small-scale structures such as subsalt shear zones, fractured or mixed ‘rubble zones’ and thrust imbricates are absent beneath allochthonous salt and welds in the eastern Willouran Ranges. Instead, either undeformed strata or halokinetic drape folds that include preserved diapir roof strata are found directly below the transition from steep diapirs to salt sheets. Allochthonous salt first broke through the diapir roofs and then flowed laterally, resulting in variable preservation of the subsalt drape folds. Lateral salt emplacement was presumably on roof-edge thrusts or, because of the shallow depositional environment, via open-toed advance or extrusive advance, but without associated subsalt deformation.