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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 65 (1981)

Issue: 7. (July)

First Page: 1207

Last Page: 1229

Title: Crustal Structure in Gulf of Mexico from OBS Refraction and Multichannel Reflection Data

Author(s): A. K. Ibrahim, J. Carye, G. Latham, R. T. Buffler (2)


Results from 12 reversed refraction profiles each 110 km long have been combined with multichannel reflection data to produce a series of crustal structure sections across the Gulf of Mexico. The refraction data were collected using ocean bottom seismographs (OBS) and explosive charges ranging in size from 1 to 120 lb (0.45 to 54.42 kg).

These data show as many as three layers of sedimentary rocks with total thickness between 5 and 9 km and layer velocities between 1.7 and 3.5 km/sec. Beneath most of the Gulf, this sedimentary section is underlain by a layer with velocity between 4.5 and 5.4 km/sec. The acoustic basement as defined by reflection data is confined within this layer. This "basement" layer, which may be the top of volcanic layer 2, is too thin to be detected in the refraction results. Beneath this layer in most of the deep Gulf is an oceanic crustal layer (layer 3), 3 to 6 km thick which thickens to about 12 km under the Mississippi fan and 10 km in the southeastern Gulf where it is interpreted to be transitional crust. Oceanic layer 3 has a velocity between 6.4 and 7.0 km/sec and overlies a mantle with v locity between 7.6 and 8.2 km/sec. The top of oceanic layer 3 was not observed on regional multichannel seismic profiles.

These data confirm earlier refraction interpretation that most of the deep Gulf basin is underlain by an oceanic crustal layer flanked by transitional crust. This layer may have been formed by a mantle thermal event accompanied by a period of rapid sea-floor spreading.

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