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Deeply incised and backfilled paleocanyons in early Paleogene shelf strata along the western and northern Gulf of Mexico margin attest to large relative sea-level fluctuations, but they predate the accepted age for onset of Cenozoic continental glaciation. Using Pleistocene canyons as a crude yardstick, the scale of these paleocanyons suggests relative sea-level changes at least as large as Pleistocene fluctuations. Therefore, we speculate that water level in the Gulf of Mexico was drawn down while the Gulf was isolated from the world’s oceans during the late Paleocene/early Eocene interval. We suggest that the cause for isolation was the progressive...

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