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The results from the deep drilling program in the central basin of the Gulf of Mexico provide convincing evidence that the Sigsbee Knolls are salt domes. This evidence raises many questions concerning the origin of the Gulf of Mexico and the possibility of vast hydrocarbon reserves beneath the deep-water areas. The fact that the Sigsbee Knolls are salt diapirs has led to the implication that buried Mesozoic salt is present across the entire basin. This concept has led to arguments concerning basic, worldwide, geologic processes. For instance, Belousov, who doubts the possibility of deep-water salt deposition, claims the presence of salt in deep-water areas validates his arguments for "basification"--making oceans from continents. However, the genetic model for deep-water alt deposition presented by Schmalz has made it possible to reconcile the hypothesis that the Gulf represents an ancient ocean basin which has been at oceanic depths at least since Mesozoic time with the presence of salt in the basin.
The basic premise in both these arguments is that salt is continuous across the deep basin and this may be invalid. The data available at present indicate that Mesozoic salt deposition was restricted to the margins of the western Gulf of Mexico and the presence of salt on the basin edges has been caused by the seaward migration of buried salt. The data also favor the hypothesis that whatever the origin of the Gulf of Mexico--foundered and oceanized continental crust or rifted ocean basin--it is a relatively old, undisturbed feature with great prospects for vast reserves of hydrocarbons in the southwestern section. This region includes the Sigsbee Knolls and their southwestern extension to the deep-water salt diapirs of the Bay of Campeche, adjacent to the Saline basin of Mexico. Petro eum prospects are suggested by the drillhole into the Challenger Knoll from which salt-dome caprock saturated with oil, gas, and sulfur was recovered and from short piston cores into knolls in the Bay of Campeche which contained either layers or scattered inclusions of solid hydrocarbons.
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