Abstract

The San Marcos and Sabine arches are prominent north-to northwest-trending basement uplifts in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico basin that may be late Mesozoic to Cenozoic foreland or intraplate folds rather than domes over plutons or buoyant basement blocks. These arches are subparallel to and contemporaneous with orogenic episodes in the northwest-trending fold-thrust belt of Mexico. Arch movement was also contemporaneous with rapid convergence between the North American and Pacific plates. Arch development in the gulf as a result of tectonic compression is plausible in view of increasing recognition of wide zones of foreland and intraplate deformation in continents. Current tectonic models of the development of the gulf inaccurately predict gradual, decelerating subsidence when these arches were most active.

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