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Effective oil source beds have not been reported in Miocene and younger Gulf Coast sediments and the organic matter present is invariably immature and oxidized. Crude oil composition, however, indicates origin from mature source beds containing reduced kerogen. Oil distribution suggests extensive vertical migration through fracture systems from localized sources in deeply buried, geopressured shales.
A model is proposed in which oil source beds were deposited in intraslope basins that formed behind salt ridges. The combination of silled basin topography, rapid sedimentation, and enhanced oxygen-minimum zones during global warmups resulted in periodic anoxic environments and preservation of oil-generating organic matter. Anoxia was most widespread during the middle Miocene and Pliocene transgressions and rare during regressive cycles when anoxia occurred primarily in hypersaline conditions such as exist today in the Orca basin.
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