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Abstract

Structures in the Cenozoic section of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico margin are thin-skinned, gravity-driven, and powered by the deposition of sediment on the shelf and upper slope. Deformation driven by sedimentation takes the form of salt displacement (including diapirism, salt withdrawal, and salt canopy formation), plus seaward gravity spreading and sliding. Lateral flow of salt gives rise to the emplacement of large-scale salt canopies of different ages. Lateral tectonic movement of both sediment and salt results in linked systems on a wide range of scales. We identify four structural provinces that contain distinct groups of structural elements believed to be genetically related: (1) far-eastern Gulf, in which no major Cenozoic deformation is seen; (2) eastern Gulf, defined mainly by a middle-late Miocene linked system of extension and contraction; (3) central Gulf, in which Oligocene updip extension was absorbed within a preexisting giant salt canopy; and (4) western Gulf, defined by several Paleogene-middle Miocene linked systems of extension and contraction. The ages and extents of each linked system match the major foci of sediment input to the shelf.

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