Abstract

The principal aim of this study has been directed toward a comprehensive interpretation of the historical development of the Gulf of Mexico. The initial stage was an analysis and correlation of seismic profiler records obtained over a considerable period, followed by an endeavor to correlate the results with the surface geology of the land areas surrounding the gulf.

Indication of simatic oceanic crust beneath the abyssal gulf has led to the assumption that it had been a permanent ocean basin. A concept developed in this study proposes that the simatic crust was formed in late Paleozoic time. Subsequent environmental conditions remained epicontinental—including the environment of Jurassic salt deposition.

Proceeding from this viewpoint, the origin of the Gulf of Mexico is proposed to be related o t the extensive regional subsidence of more than 10,000 ft during Cretaceous time, and its isolation came about by the continuous contemporaneous carbonate growth of the Florida and Yucatan platforms. Minimum rates of sediment deposition, compared to the rate of platform growth, led to consistent deepening of the gulf, which, accordingly, must be underlain by a thin Cretaceous section.

Hypothetically, the Straits of Florida and the Yucatan Channel originated from erosion at the front of the Laramide tectogene when carbonate growth was halted, following the inundation by seaways.

The Gulf of Mexico has been reduced to its present size by the invasion from the north and northwest of the huge Cenozoic mass of deposits—referred to as the Gulf Coast geosyncline. The last major volume of clastic sediments was deposited on the Mississippi cone in early Holocene time. However, the latest deposits from the Mississippi and other rivers were laid down on the continental shelves and a minimum of terrigenous material has been reaching the abyssal gulf by turbidity currents.

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