Scientific article

A revised synthesis of the rift and drift history of the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding regions in the light of improved age dating of the Middle Jurassic salt

Published inSpecial publication of the Geological Society of London, vol. 504, no. 1, p. 29-76
Publication date2021-08-27
First online date2020-08-27

We present an updated, internally consistent synthesis of the Permo-Triassic assembly and Mesozoic evolution of the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, Florida–Bahamas and northern South America (Guiana margin and northern Andes), incorporating advances at regional, field and geochronological levels. The recently determined Bajocian age for salt deposition (using 87 Sr/ 86 Sr isotopes) is integrated by modifying the plate kinematic framework with a new Equatorial Atlantic reconstruction that expands the gap between the Americas by 180 km over many kinematic frameworks. NW–SE synrift lithospheric extension along western Florida–Bahamas is estimated at 40%, implying thinned continental crust beneath Great Bank, Bahamas, the conjugate for the Guianas Basin margin. In cordilleran Mexico (excluding the Yucatán Block), we propose two new means by which continental crust migrated into the ‘Colombian overlap position' of Pangaean reconstructions. The first involved Jurassic–earliest Cretaceous sinistral displacement of the Oaxaca Block along a NW–SE ‘North Oaxaca Transfer' through or adjacent to the Cuicateco Belt. The second applies to the continental crust in eastern Mexico to the north of Cuicateco, a region we refer to as ‘peninsular Mexico'. There, most Mesozoic basement faults trend NW–SE, and the common occurrence of Permian mid-crustal anatectic basement directly beneath Mesozoic red beds, salt and marine strata suggests extreme extension prior to the onset of sedimentation. Because these Mesozoic sedimentary sections typically sum to 3–8 km in thickness, the post-rift crust of peninsular Mexico probably averaged about 25 km in thickness before later orogenesis. Our reconstructions suggest that this Triassic–Middle Jurassic extension approached 100%, beginning with overthickened Alleghanian (Permian) crust about 50 km in thickness in palaeo-northern Mexico, and was accompanied by a significant sinistral component broadly distributed across the rift array. The updated model provides an exploration and kinematic framework for the entire region.

Citation (ISO format)
PINDELL, James et al. A revised synthesis of the rift and drift history of the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding regions in the light of improved age dating of the Middle Jurassic salt. In: Special publication of the Geological Society of London, 2021, vol. 504, n° 1, p. 29–76. doi: 10.1144/SP504-2020-43
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0305-8719

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