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Having discussed the primary mechanisms of subsidence we can briefly focus on the plate tectonic settings of major sedimentary basins and examine their typical subsidence histories and mechanisms (Fig. 6.1). Much has been written about the driving mechanisms of basin formation in most tectonic settings. An early overview was provided by Dickinson (1976). The purpose of this chapter is not to attempt to summarize the state of knowledge of basin evolution. Instead, we simply define each basin type, following the basin classification scheme of Dickinson (1976), and focus on a few key points regarding the mechanisms of basin evolution. Due to space limitations we do not cite all of the relevant literature but provide just a few key references.

The subsidence curves (Fig. 6.1) come primarily from the published literature, augmented by analyses done by ourselves or by students in our sedimentary basins course at the University of Wyoming. All the curves have been backstripped following the local-isostatic method described above (Steckler and Watts, 1978). However, inconsistencies arise from the use of different time scales, compaction corrections and paleowater depth estimates made by the various authors. Nonetheless, the overall consistency of the subsidence curves in each of the various tectonic settings suggests that use of different scales by different workers do not generate errors large enough to mask the overall trends.

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