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Abstract

Throughout most of Early Cretaceous time, the Gulf of Mexico basin was a major site of continental and marine deposition surrounded by the Appalachian and Ouachita uplands on the north, the Llano and Marathon uplifts on the northwest and the Chiapas massif and Maya Mountains to the south. During this time there were marine connections to the Pacific Ocean to the west and to the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast. The Gulf of Mexico basin was tectonically stable except for continuing slow subsidence of its central part, growth faulting on the margins of some depocenters, and local deformation related to underlying Jurassic salt. Shallow-marine water covered its rims and peripheral shelves, and progressively deeper waters its slope and abyssal plain.

Lower Cretaceous rocks form a continuous disc of sediments, which thin and pinch out updip along the periphery of the Gulf of Mexico basin. Lower Cretaceous sequences crop out along the northwestern, western, southwestern rims of the basin. No Lower Cretaceous outcrops are known east of the Mississippi River nor in the Florida and Yucatán Peninsulas (Fig. 1).

The Lower Cretaceous sediments are primarily carbonates and evaporites on the circum-Gulf shelves, and carbonates in the bathyal areas. Continental and shallow-marine terrigenous clastic sediments occur primarily around the northern and northwestern rims of the basin, from northeastern Mexico to the Florida panhandle. They are most prevalent in the lower part of the Lower Cretaceous section (Berriasian to Barremian), and represent the sediment load of rivers draining the continental interior and the

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