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Origin of Catoche Tongue

F.J. Shaub
F.J. Shaub
University of Texas at Austin, Institute for Geophysics1
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January 01, 1983


The Catoche Tongue is a major reentrant in the Campeche Platform in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico (Figure 1, 1a). This feature extends about 125 km (77.6 mi) into the platform and varies in width from 25 to 100 km (15.5 to 62 mi). Bathymetric data indicate that the floor of the Tongue is a continuation of the Gulf of Mexico abyssal plain and that the steep margin of the Tongue is a continuation of the Campeche Escarpment which forms the outer margin of the Campeche Platform itself. The main questions about this feature are: (1) what is the mechanism of formation; (2) what is the age of formation; (3) do the margins of the Catoche Tongue consist of the same geologic section as the outer platform escarpment; and (4) what is the age and geology of the fill. Mechanism and margin similarities are interpreted in this paper by means of multichannel seismic data, and reason able suggestions are made as to age and lithology of fill by extrapolating published drilling results and regional geology.

The Campeche Platform itself, including the emergent Yucatan Peninsula, is a major geomorphological block with a steep escarpment boundary on its western, northern, and eastern sides. The Platform is probably underlain by Paleozoic metamorphic and igneous basement (Bryant et al, 1969; Baie, 1970; Viniegra, 1971, 1981; Schlager, Buffler et al, in press). The overlying sedimentary column recovered from Yucatan wells (i.e., the central platform area) consists of a thin section of Upper-Jurassic alternating marine and continental sediments and 2.5 to 3.5 km (1.5 to 2 mi) of Lower Cretaceous through Holocene shallow-marine carbonate facies and evaporites (Viniegra, 1971, 1981). At the outer platform margin shallow marine middle-Cretaceous deposition was confirmed by DSDP holes 86, 94, and 95 (Worzel, Bryant et al, 1973; Viniegra, 1971, 1981).

Lower Cretaceous reef and fore-reef material have also been dredged from the escarpment (Bryant et al, 1969) and drilled along its base (Schlager, Buffler, et al, in press). A shallow-marine environment, then, appears to have existed over the entire Campeche Platform during Early Cretaceous time. It was a "great thickness of limestone and evaporites" which formed as the upper surface of these deposits remained essentially at sea level while their base subsided (Garrison and Martin, 1973). However, in Late Cretaceous time the outer platform foundered, possibly because of an acceleration of the subsidence postulated above (Worzel, Bryant et al, 1973; Antoine et al, 1974). The outer platform strata thereafter consisted of foraminiferal ooze and chalk (Worzel, Bryant et al, 1973).

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AAPG Studies in Geology

Seismic Expression of Structural Styles: A Picture and Work Atlas. Volume 1–The Layered Earth, Volume 2–Tectonics Of Extensional Provinces, & Volume 3–Tectonics Of Compressional Provinces

A. W. Bally
A. W. Bally
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
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Publication date:
January 01, 1983




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