The Gulf of Mexico margin in Texas is one of the most impressive examples of starved passive margin gravity collapse systems. Growth faults developed upslope and are compensated down slope by toe folding and thrusting. On the basis of new multi-channel seismic data with high penetration (down to 11 s-twtt) we present evidences for deep crustal extension and rifting that have enhanced superficial sliding. This hypothesis is supported by a significant heat flow anomaly and crustal thinning independently deduced from gravity data. This Cenozoic rifting episode is tectonically linked to left lateral motion along the Rio Bravo fault, a reactivated branch of the Texas lineament.