Diapir

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A diapir ( ) (French, from Greek diapeirein, to pierce through) is a type of intrusion in which a more mobile and ductily-deformable material is forced into brittle overlying rocks. Depending on the tectonic environment, diapirs can range from idealized mushroom-shaped Rayleigh-Taylor instability-type structures in regions with low tectonic stress such as in the Gulf of Mexico to narrow dike of material that move along tectonically-induced fractures in surrounding rock. The term was introduced by the Romanian geologist Ludovic Mrazek, who was the first to understand the principle of salt intrusion and plasticity. The term "diapir" may be applied to igneous structures, but it is more commonly applied to non-igneous, relatively cold materials, such as salt domes and mud diapirs.

In addition to Earth-based observations, diapirism is thought to occur on Jupiter's moon Europa, Saturn's moon Enceladus, and Uranus's moon Miranda.

Diapirs commonly intrude vertically upward along fractures or zones of structural weakness through denser overlying rocks because of density contrast between a less dense, lower rock mass and overlying denser rocks. The density contrast manifests as a force of buoyancy. The process is known as diapirism. The resulting structures are...
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