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I've heard a little about salt glaciers in Iraq. I understand salt deposits can form along with oil. How large are these salt glaciers and how exactly are these formed?
Question Date: 2003-03-25
Answer 1:

This is an interesting question. Salt (Halit or NaCl/CaCl) is a mineral and behaves like ice or any other mineral with respect to its density.

Continental crustal rocks e.g. have lower densities than oceanic crustal rocks. There for the oceanic crust is subducted at active continental margins. Salt is accumulated in the oceans and sedimented, joined with other sediments. After millions of years they are compacted. When the sea level falls, or the sea floor is uplifted, the sediments start to erode. The salt now seeks its way up (salt domes) and extrudes on the surface forming plugs.

One distinguishes different types of plugs: small and big forms (1-10 miles), passive and active.

The active form is what you are looking for. They have an uplift between 2 to 4 inches per year, some authors recorded 1 to 2 mm/a. They have a great amount of evaporates outcropping on the surface and have a salt glacier, that now flows out of the plug downhill (density!) and accumulates in a dell e.g.

The arid climate is important. In a humid climate the salt would go into solution immediately. Also important is the tectonic activity of an area.

Through the Persian Golf runs a fault system, that was formed due to the continent-continent collision of the Arabic and the Asiatic plate. It formed a complex of anticlines (concave folds) on the south coast of Iran. The plugs are associated with the anticlines.

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