Arrival of Laramide uplift sediments to the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain and northwestern Gulf of Mexico during the early Paleogene is recorded in strata of the Wilcox Group as a significant increase in sediment accumulation and with the appearance of 65–52 Ma detrital zircons that correspond with the timing of late Laramide uplift. New U-Pb dating of detrital zircons by laser ablation–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) for samples obtained from the Lower Paleocene Tehuacana Member through the Lower Eocene Queen City Formation in east-central Texas identifies the Hooper Formation of the Wilcox Group as the oldest stratigraphic unit to contain 65–52 Ma ages. Late appearance of 65–52 Ma detrital zircons in the Hooper Formation is correlated with unroofed Laramide magmatic intrusions or nearly syndepositional volcaniclastic sources; whereas older detrital zircons are inferred to be derived primarily from sedimentary cover and basement rocks exposed during uplift of Laramide blocks.
Potential source region and Gulf Coastal Plain detrital zircon data support a relatively similar paleodrainage area and sediment sources for east-central Texas Tehuacana Member to Carrizo Formation and central Louisiana Wilcox Group data, and for east-central Texas Queen City Formation and central Louisiana middle-upper Claiborne Group data. South Texas Wilcox Group data contrast with data from these samples and support a different paleodrainage area and sediment sources for the south Texas region. We propose that headwaters sourced from southeastern Wyoming to the southern Rocky Mountain region delivered sediments to east-central Texas and central Louisiana during the Paleocene to Middle Eocene. Pronounced Mesoproterozoic and Neoproterozoic detrital zircons in the lower Claiborne Group of east-central Texas and the middle-upper Claiborne Group of central Louisiana are attributed to new or unroofed recycled sediments with Grenvillian age detrital zircons incorporated from the Ouachita region and other proximal locations in the preexisting paleodrainage area. The inferred paleodrainage area for east-central Texas and central Louisiana includes most of the Rocky Mountain Laramide uplift blocks, has a southern boundary separating it from a south Texas paleodrainage, and an eastern boundary roughly coincident with the Mississippi embayment, which separates it from Appalachian Mountains drainages.