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Current tectonic models for the formation of the Gulf of Mexico generally include continental rifting starting in the Triassic and continuing through the Jurassic. A comparison between the sedimentology and structural geology of known continental rifts (such as the Gulf of Suez, Egypt) and the Triassic and Jurassic of the Gulf of Mexico suggests the following. (1) The interior salt basins of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama probably were deposited within a failed continental rift. (2) Positive features such as the Angelina-Caldwell flexure, Wiggins arch, and Middle Ground arch probably represent the southern edge of the failed rift. (3) Positive features such as the Sabine uplift and Monroe arch are probably isolated horst blocks within the failed rift.
Pre-evaporite sediments account for much of the production in the Gulf of Suez, and these rock sequences are well exposed there on shore. Depositional and structural histories for these rocks are similar in both the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of Suez, and a careful comparison suggests new play concepts for the Gulf of Mexico. The post-evaporite sequences of the Gulf of Suez are also similar to the Norphlet and Smackover Formations of the Gulf of Mexico, although Smackover equivalents are currently being deposited in the Gulf of Suez. Comparisons between the two rift systems indicate that a clearer understanding of the structural setting of the Gulf of Mexico at the time of deposition of the Norphlet and Smackover should lead to better exploration plays for these syntectonic formations. >
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