Abstract

The northern deep Gulf of Mexico is a geologically complex province consisting of Neogene intraslope minibasins created by sediment loading onto and evacuation of allochthonous salt. Sedimentary fill in the minibasins consists of bathyal turbidite systems with highly variable facies distribution. In this paper, we present three biostratigraphic techniques developed to increase our understanding of the geologic evolution of the northern Green Canyon and Ewing Bank lease areas. The first two techniques address the nature of stratigraphic condensation in minibasins and the relative areal extent of the condensed sections. The third technique uses benthic foraminifers to improve the stratigraphic knowledge of the area. (1) The first technique is concerned with sediment accumulation plots from wells helping to identify possible areas of condensation based on variations in the rate of accumulation. By displaying several wells together, the areal extent of the condensed section can be identified, and the causes for the condensation can be evaluated. (2) The second technique addresses condensation within one minibasin during a 2.5-m.y. interval. Relative abundance values are plotted from a series of wells at selected time surfaces and tied to seismic horizons that are correlated throughout the basin. This allows plotting a series of maps that show how stratigraphic condensation changes throughout a basin. (3) The third technique develops benthic biofacies maps that more accurately reflect the highly irregular paleobathymetry of the slope at the time of deposition. These maps were created by plotting the benthic biofacies of the sediments recovered from a well at the stratigraphic extinction of 29 selected planktonic foraminifer and calcareous nannoplankton species. The maps are integrated with lithostratigraphic and structural palinspastic reconstructions. The resulting maps are interpreted to more accurately reflect benthic biofacies of the continental slope at specific geological times during the Pliocene and Pleistocene.

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