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Abstract

The Gulf of Mexico basin is a roughly circular structural basin that has been filled with 0 to 15 km of sedimentary rocks ranging in age from Late Triassic to Holocene. The crust beneath the central part of the basin is oceanic in character; this is surrounded by continental crust, which underneath much of the basin has been greatly attenuated by rift-related extension (Worzel and Burke, 1978; Buffler and Sawyer, 1985; and Chapter 4, this volume).

Superimposed on the basin are second-order structural features that modify the overall simple geometry (Plate 2):

  1. Basins of enhanced subsidence and deposition, as well as intervening platforms or arches (“uplifts” sensu lato), which subsided less than surrounding areas. These features were formed by spatially varying rates of lithospheric cooling related to the early synrift history of extension, and amplified by differential sediment loading.

  2. Basin-margin fault systems in the northwestern and western segments of the Gulf of Mexico basin, due to flexing of the basin rim and uplift of adjacent provinces.

  3. Structural basins and uplifts sensu stricto with resultant erosional unconformities and clastic wedges related to active tectonics: block faulting, epeirogenic doming, and the formation of fold-thrust belts.

  4. Salt diapirs and related structures formed from flow of Jurassic salt that lies at the base of the sediment column. Different original salt thicknesses and different loading histories have created distinct salt-diapir provinces characterized by their style and age of diapirism. A “peripheral graben system” formed in the northern part of the basin

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