- Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011
3D modelling of geological structures is a key method to improve the understanding of the geological history of an area, and to serve as a drive for exploration. Geomodelling has been performed on a large 60000 km2 area of the Zagros fold-and-thrust belt of Iran, to reconcile a vast but heterogeneous dataset. Topography, geological surface data and dips, outcrop surveys, and well and seismic data were integrated into the model. The method was to construct a key surface maximizing the hard data constraints. The Oligo-Miocene Top Asmari layer was chosen, as this formation was regionally deposited before the main Zagros collision phase and because the numerous outcrops allow proper control of the bed geometry in the fold cores. Interpreted seismic data have been integrated to interpolate the surfaces at depth within the synclines. Several conceptual models of fold geometry have been applied to estimate the best way to convert seismic time signal to depth. Several deeper horizons down to Palaeozoic strata were deduced from this key horizon by applying palaeo-thickness maps. During the construction, the 3D interpolated surfaces could be reconverted to time, using a velocity model, and compared with previous seismic interpretations. This exercise obliged us to revise some early interpretations of seismic lines that were badly tied to wells. The 3D modelling therefore clearly improves regional interpretation. In addition, the 3D model is the only tool that allows drawing consistent cross-sections in areas where there are no seismic lines. Emerging Hormuz salt diapirs were added to the model. Dimensions and shapes of the individual diapirs were modelled using a statistical survey on the cropping out Hormuz structures. Modelling reliably demonstrated that the diapirs, when piercing, show a constant mushroom shape whose diameter depends on the stratigraphic depth of observation. This observation allowed us to exemplify relations between the pre-existing diapirs and the anticlines of the area, and to highlight the morphological changes from the inner onshore areas to the coastal and offshore areas. In addition, one of the surprising results of this study was the observation of the increasing diameter of the diapirs at the time of the Zagros collision and folding event, with growth strata and overhangs on the flanks of the diapirs.