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The Yucatan Block is a rifted continental microplate covering 450,000 sq km in southern Mexico, northern Guatemala, and Belize. The crystalline basement is mantled by a Late Jurassic through Holocene carbonate/evaporite platform up to six-km thick. While the northern and western edges of the Yucatán Block have been passive margins since the Mesozoic, its southern margin was affected by Late Cretaceous suturing to the Chortis microplate, followed by Miocene to Holocene strike-slip faulting. Its eastern margin was modified by Paleogene strike slip against the Cuban Arc Terrane. The Yucatán Block has received very little terrigenous sedimentation since being isolated from nearby landmasses by the Jurassic separation of North and South America.

Major hydrocarbon production exists in Mexico from the area immediately west of the Yucatán Block in the Reforma Trend, Campeche Sound, and the Macuspana Basin. Oil has also been found west and south of the block in the Sierra de Chiapas of Guatemala and Mexico. Only one commercial oil accumulation has been found to date on the stable block itself (Xan field in Guatemala), and mineral exploration without commercial success has been limited to the small area of exposed crystalline basement in the Maya Mountains of Belize.

Based on current knowledge, it is the author’s opinion that the economic potential of the Yucatán Block should not be discounted.Hydrocarbon and mineral exploration has been sporadic and generally low-tech, and there is a clear need for high-quality regional seismic data to reveal structural configuration and sedimentary architecture. Among the many geological factors to be understood are:

  • 1)

    geometry of Triassic-Jurassic rift structures (horsts and grabens);

  • 2)

    location and geometries of possible Jurassic and Cretaceous intraplatform hydrocarbon source basins, carbonate buildups, and structural traps in the evaporite/carbonate section;

  • 3)

    paleoheatflow as it affected organic maturation;

  • 4)

    effects within the block of tectonics along its margins (tilting, mass wasting, and foreland bulging); and

  • 5)

    possible role of the Chicxulub K/T astrobleme in hydrocarbon and mineral occurrence.

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