Regional structure, stratigraphy, and hydrocarbon potential of the Mexican sector of the Gulf of Mexico
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I have compiled digital seismic and well data over a region of approximately 700,000 km² to better improve the correlation of the Mexican sector of the Gulf of Mexico (MGOM) with the better studied and more explored U.S. sector. I have ~25,000 km of regional 2D lines that were collected by the University of Texas in the 1970's. I have digitized data from published PEMEX data from the MGOM using SEG-Y converter software and incorporated these data into my seismic grid. Using these data, I interpreted and correlated 20 surfaces that range in age from Late Jurassic to Recent. The combined shelf-slope-basin dataset from the MGOM allows for correlation of units from the deepwater MGOM, across into the Mexican Ridges passive margin foldbelt, and onto the Mexican shelf. I have also incorporated seismic data from the offshore Chicxulub crater and correlated units in the Yucatan platform area with the deepwater MGOM. This regional data set indicates that normal, growth faulting linked with downdip toe thrusts and folds of the Mexican Ridges initiated in post-Middle Miocene time and are therefore unrelated to the earlier Paleogene Laramide uplift deformation phase. Shelf-slope-deep basin seismic facies of Eocene and Oligocene units show an influx of clastic materials linked with regional uplift and volcanic events affecting central Mexico during this period. I propose that the deepwater folds of the Mexican Ridges accompanied shelf-edge gravity sliding and normal faulting activated during accelerated Oligo-Miocene uplift, regional volcanic activity, and erosion of the Mexican landmass. Downdip sliding occurred on the seaward-dipping top Cretaceous carbonate unit (7° to 13°) along with overlying horizons that range in dip from 1° to 2°. Shelf-slope-deep basin seismic facies of the Paleocene units around the Yucatan peninsula suggest a sediment-starved and slide-free carbonate margin with a current basinward dip of approximately 12° and significantly greater than those dips observed along the present-day eastern Gulf of Mexico. Based on the seismic interpretations and plate reconstructions, I propose four major tectonosequences fill the Gulf of Mexico basin: 1) A Late Jurassic to Late Cretaceous passive margin phase; 2) a Late Cretaceous to Late Eocene Laramide deformational phase; 3) a Late Eocene to Middle Miocene passive margin phase; and 4) a Late Miocene to Recent Neogene deformational phase.