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The recently compiled multibeam and digitized seismic data detail the complex bathymetry of the continental slope of the northern Gulf of Mexico slope and deepwater areas. Detailed bathymetry data, together with a watershed basin analysis model, generate landlike drainage paths in the submarine environment. Four drainage systems were identified and coincide with the major sediment sources in the west (Rio Grande River system), the northwest (Brazos and Colorado river systems), and the north (Mississippi River system). The carbonate-dominated platforms in the eastern and southern Gulf of Mexico show few drainage paths.

On a regional scale, these drainage paths were the primary conduits for density currents during periods of low sea stand, which may help our understanding of the distribution of turbidite-derived sediments in the Gulf of Mexico.

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