Mesozoic-Cenozoic Tectonic Controls On Basin Formation And Hydrocarbon Potential Of The Deep-water, Mexican Sector Of The Gulf Of Mexico Basin
Kenning, Jack Joseph
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The deep-water, Mexican sector of the Gulf of Mexico covers an area of >500,000 km2 and includes some of the least studied regions of the entire basin. Five main tectonic events affected the Mexican Gulf of Mexico from the Triassic to recent. 1) Triassic-Jurassic rifting, 2) Late Jurassic oceanic spreading, 3) Cretaceous passive margin development, 4) Late Cretaceous-Eocene Laramide orogeny; and 5) Eocene to recent passive margin fold-belt formation. The purpose of this dissertation is to improve understanding of the Mesozoic to recent, tectonic, structural, and stratigraphic history of the deep-water margins of the region to aid future hydrocarbon exploration. This study utilizes a database of >60,000 line-km of modern, industry 2D depth-converted seismic data. In Chapter 2, I conducted thermal modeling along the deep-water Yucatan margin that used a range of estimates of lithospheric thickness and heat-flow. These models demonstrate that deeply buried, salt-related minibasins along the marginal rift are low-risk for source rock maturity and that the uppermost slope is much higher-risk. Large, salt-related traps are located directly adjacent to oil kitchens within deep minibasins, where accompanying vertical faulting allows for effective migration pathways. In Chapter 3, twelve, regional-scale mass transport deposits (MTDs) of Paleogene age were mapped across the Mexican Ridges fold-belt and Salina del Bravo salt province. MTD deposition is related to south-to-north, post-Laramide deformation, and exhumation of orogenic belts along the coastal area of eastern Mexico. Folds overlying a thicker MTD detachment zone in the northern Mexican Ridges possess shorter wavelengths and higher amplitudes compared to the southern Mexican Ridges. In Chapter 4, area-depth strain measurements were performed for ten folds across two regional seismic profiles through the Lamprea fold-belt and Mexican Ridges that are adjacent to the southeastern Salina del Bravo salt province. Miocene-age deformation across the Lamprea coincides with a phase of renewed salt canopy extrusion that is driven by ongoing up-dip sediment loading and extensional deformation west of the Salina del Bravo salt province. These results are consistent with an early Miocene onset of fold growth that was controlled primarily by the advancing salt canopy and with minimal control of the underlying autochthonous salt body.