Late Quaternary sedimentation
Published:January 01, 1991
The Gulf of Mexico basin (Fig. 1) is the largest semi-enclosed depositional basin in North America and has been the site of extensive hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation since the turn of the century. Since Late Jurassic times, the drainage basin of the Mississippi River system has been delivering sediments to the Gulf of Mexico (Worzel and Burke, 1978; Chapter 8, this volume). Mesozoic and Cenozoic deposits are estimated to have attained a total thickness in excess of 15 km (Martin and Bouma, 1978; Bouma and others, 1978a). Thus, the river system has been operative over relatively long periods of time, constantly feeding sediments to the receiving basin and building a thick Jurassic, Cretaceous, Tertiary, and Quaternary sequence of interfingering deltaic, nearshore coastal brackish water, and marine sediments, which have prograded the coastal plain shoreline seaward. Relatively little sediment yield has occurred during the Quaternary from the southern rim of the Gulf of Mexico basin. Through time, depocenters have shifted within the northern flank of the basin, forming a relatively thick sequence of Tertiary and Quaternary clastic sediments. The zone of maximum thickness trends roughly east-west near the present-day coastal plain of Louisiana and west toward Texas. Rapid subsidence associated primarily with sediment loading and salt and shale diapirism has been responsible for unusually thick, localized sedimentary accumulations and for the complex bathymetry on the continental slope (Fig. 1; Plate I, this volume). Throughout the Tertiary and Quaternary, minor and major transgressions and regressions have occurred, although the major depositional component
Figures & Tables
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.