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While carbonate and evaporite deposition continued over the stable Florida and Yucatan Platforms, terrigenous clastic deposition dominated the rest of the Gulf of Mexico basin during the Cenozoic.

The position of the Cretaceous shelves and platforms determined to a great extent the shape and size of the basin at the beginning of the Cenozoic. This stratigraphic and structural framework was modified during the Cenozoic by the vast influx of terrigenous clastic sediments from the north and west, and by the structural impact of the Laramide orogeny during the Paleocene and Eocene. Subsidence of the central part of the basin continued during the Cenozoic, but it was the result more of sedimentary loading than of the thermal cooling of the oceanic crust.

The immense volumes of terrigenous clastic sediments that entered the Gulf of Mexico basin, particularly along its northern and northwestern margins, caused rapid basinward migration of shoreline deposition across the shelves, ultimately to positions considerably beyond the trend of the Cretaceous shelf margins. When large volumes of terrigenous clastics began to accumulate basinward of the Cretaceous shelf margins, an offlapping depositional style was developed along the northern and northwestern Gulf of Mexico basin that characterizes the Cenozoic. Very thick sedimentary sections began to accumulate over the continental slopes, and to fill the deeper parts of the basin, loading and depressing the attenuated continental crust and the oceanic crust.

The same three distinct stratigraphic-structural provinces in existence during the Mesozoic can still be recognized during the Cenozoic around the center

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