Not everyone is into geography, but I along with a few others think it’s pretty interesting. That’s why today I’m focusing on salt domes–mysterious structures containing crude oil located everywhere around the Houston area.
For perspective, it wasn’t until 1901 near Beaumont, Texas that a crew discovered the first salt dome. When they hit an oil reservoir tucked next to it, the pressure blew out all of their drilling materials and showered the landscape with oil. After that, geologists realized they needed to learn more about these things.
So, why are there over 400 of them in East Texas?
As North and South America separated to form the Gulf, a salt bed called the Louann Salt became the foundation for the sedimentary layers to follow. It sounds really complicated but just think of this salt layer like the foundation for your home.
The area surrounding Houston has acted like a delta, dumping water and sediment into the Gulf, burying that source layer (or foundation) of salt under complex layers of source rock and reservoir rock. Basically, the salt got buried.
Over the years, tectonic forces near the area triggered a bunch of faults, allowing the salt to protrude up to the surface.
In a nutshell, that’s how all of these salt domes formed over time. It all started with that base layer from the Louann Salt. Then nature came in and took care of the rest!