Abstract

Along northeastern Mexico close to the Texas-Mexico border, the Burgos basin and its extension offshore was developed and deformed from the Paleocene up to Present time. This is a key triple junction between the sub meridian dextral transtensive coastal plain of the Gulf of Mexico extending far to the south in Mexico, the NE Corsair fault zone offshore and the sinistral Rio Bravo fault zone, a reactivated segment of the Texas lineament.

Offshore NE Mexico, in the main study area covered by available seismic profiles, we have evidenced below the main well known gravitational décollement level (5 to 7 s twtt → 6 to 8 km) a Cenozoic deep-rooted deformation outlined by a N010° W trending deep-seated reverse fault zone and crustal folding down to the Moho (11 s twtt → ~ 20 km).

Based on extensive offshore 2D industrial multi-channel seismic reflection surveys, deep exploration wells and gravimetric data, we focus our study on the deep crustal fabric and its effects on the gravitational tectonics in the upper sedimentary layers: submeridian crustal transtensional normal faults and open folding of the identified Mesozoic basement were interpreted as Cenozoic buckling of the crust during a major phase of oblique crustal extension. This deformation has probably enhanced gravity sliding along N030° growth-faults related to salt withdrawal and halokinesis in the offshore Burgos basin. We have tentatively made a link between this crustal deformation episode and the Neogene tectonic inversion of the Laramide foredeep basin of the Sierra Madre Oriental. The latter is still affected by crustal strike slip faulting associated with basaltic volcanism observed into the gulf coastal plain.

This study favours a dominant crustal Cenozoic tectonic activity along the gulf margin without any clear evidence of Mesozoic tectonic reactivation. We propose that the large gravity collapse of the gulf margin was triggered by subsequent crustal deformation.

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