Geological and geophysical evidence—and confidence in the postulates of plate tectonics—indicates that in the dawn of the Mesozoic what would become the Gulf of Mexico basin area was part of a very large land mass, the supercontinent of Pangea. It is generally believed that toward the end of the Paleozoic and the beginning of the Mesozoic, Pangea grouped all the continental plates of the Earth. How all these plates were assembled is still a subject of considerable controversy, particularly how and where the North American and South American Plates fit together in the area that would eventually become the Gulf of Mexico basin and surrounding positive tectonic elements.
Many reconstructions of the Gulf of Mexico basin area during the late Paleozoic or earliest Mesozoic have been proposed (Bullard and others, 1965; Freeland and Dietz, 1971; Owen, 1976, 1983; Carey, 1958, 1976; Smith and Briden, 1977; Pilger, 1978; Salvador and Green, 1980; and many others). They all differ in the manner in which the authors interpreted how the plates were assembled, but agree, at least, in indicating that the North American and South American Plates were joined in some manner during the late Paleozoic and earliest Mesozoic as part of the emergent and stable supercontinent of Pangea.
The first recorded active events of the Mesozoic geologic history of the Gulf of Mexico basin area correspond with the beginning of the breakup of Pangea, probably during the Late Triassic, and the drifting of the North American Plate away from the African and
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The Gulf of Mexico Basin
Eighteen chapters deal with the entire Gulf of Mexico basin. Included are significant contributions from Mexican geologists. Nine topical chapters cover regional aspects of physiography and bathymetry, structural framework, the basement crust, salt tectonics and listric faulting, igneous activity, seismic stratigraphy, oil and gas resources, mineral resources and geopressured-geothermal energy, and ground water. Six chapters summarize regional stratigraphy and paleogeography for the pre-Triassic, Triassic-Jurassic, Lower Cretaceous, Upper Cretaceous, Cenozoic, and late Quaternary. Also included is a synthesis of the origin and development of the Gulf of Mexico basin. Six 4-color plates summarize the bathymetry, natural resources, tectonics, and basement structure and subcrop of the region, and provide a stratigraphic correlation chart and geologic cross sections.