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The deep Gulf of Mexico basin is underlain by up to 10 km (33,000 ft) of Jurassic(?) to Holocene layered sedimentary rocks. The multichannel reflection seismic record from the deep Gulf of Mexico was divided into six seismic stratigraphic units for study of the geologic history of this accumulation. The basal Challenger unit (Jurassic(?) to middle Cretaceous) is considered coeval with early basin formation. We interpret it as a deep marine sequence overlying oceanic crust in the central basin and as continental and shallow through deep marine rocks, including thick evaporites, over adjacent transitional crust. The next three units, Campeche, Lower Mexican Ridges and Upper Mexican Ridges, indicate that from the Late Cretaceous through middle Miocene the basin filled progre sively from the west and north, most probably with siliceous turbidites interlayered with pelagic deposits. By the late Tertiary, however, salt and shale deformation within thick sedimentary sections along the western and northern margins trapped much of the incoming sediment supply on the shelves and upper slopes. The late Miocene to Pliocene Cinco de Mayo unit, therefore, represents a relatively starved interval. In contrast, the uppermost, or Sigsbee unit, includes the Mississippi Fan, an accumulation up to 3 km (10,000 ft) thick of mainly mass-transported deposits that bypassed the shelf and slope and were deposited directly onto the abyssal plain. In the western and southwestern portions of the deep basin, beyond the fan pinch-out, the Pleistocene section is largely a continuation o the Pliocene suspension deposits.
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