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A reevaluation of Holocene sediments on the Belize shelf is based on (1) a newly constructed composite of 7 Landsat images, enhanced and registered to form a regional base map, and (2) a Holocene facies map based on a rigorous treatment of compositional and textural parameters for approximately 600 bottom samples. The sediments are mapped in terms usually applied to lithified carbonate rocks, allowing direct comparisons with carbonate facies in the subsurface.
By combining Landsat imagery with this facies map, it is possible to point out the following geologic features: (1) major tectonic elements, such as the Maya Mountains, the Yucatan Plateau, several offshore ridges, and 3 large atolls, (2) major physiographic features such as the Belize barrier reef with its reef platform and crest, middle-shelf shoal deposits, middle-shelf patch reefs (including lagoon reefs or rhomboid reefs), (3) Holocene facies patterns with potential reservoir facies of foraminifera-grainstone bars, Halimeda grainstones, and branching-coral, encrusting red-algae boundstones, and (4) nearshore clastics and a sharp transition eastward to carbonate sediments.
An understanding of Holocene facies patterns on the Belize shelf is important to the explorationist, because these facies patterns are living examples of exploration fairways and invite comparisons with several petroleum provinces: (1) Cretaceous reefs of Texas, (2) upper Paleozoic skeletal-grainstone bars in west Texas, and (3) Devonian reefs of the Alberta basin.
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