The continental margin, as the term is commonly used, encompasses a critical boundary between the shallow to subaerial environments that rim a basin and the deep basin floor. Also implicit in the term is the association with a crustal boundary or transition separating continental and oceanic basement. Thus, continental margins are major physiographic, bathymetric, and structural features of the Earth’s skin.
The three bathymetric and depositional regimes that form the continental margin include the shelf, shelf edge, and continental slope (fig. 1). As we shall see, our concepts about continental shelves, which are prejudiced by the Holocene high stand of sea level, may require some modification.
The modern continental margin of the Northwest Shelf of the Gulf of Mexico is readily described in terms of water depth and depositional gradient. However, recognition of paleocontinental margins in the stratigraphic record proves more difficult. Several criteria that may be used include (1)
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Structural and Depositional Styles of Gulf Coast Tertiary Continental Margins: Application to Hydrocarbon Exploration
The structure and genetic stratigraphy of the Gulf of Mexico continental margin are inextricably intertwined. As hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation advance into the deeply buried Tertiary basin fill, interpretation of the complex depositional and structural styles of the outer shelf and upper slope setting will increasingly challenge the interpreter. This publication provides a coherent summary of the key concepts, models, and tools that are needed to meet this exploration challenge, and includes chapters on: basic principles, submarine slope systems, models of growth faults, mechanics of diapir growth, petroleum traps, and techniques on analyzing normal faults and balancing cross sections with extended strata.