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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 90, No. 7 (July 2006), P. 1089-1119.

Copyright copy2006. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Sea level influence on the nature and timing of a minibasin sedimentary fill (northwestern slope of the Gulf of Mexico)

Gianni Mallarino,1 Rick T. Beaubouef,2 Andreacute W. Droxler,3 Vitor Abreu,4 Laurent Labeyrie5

1Earth Science Department, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77005; present address: PanTerra Geoconsultants B.V., Weversbaan 1-3, 2352 BZ Leiderdorp, Netherlands; [email protected]
2ExxonMobil Exploration Co., Houston, Texas; [email protected]
3Earth Science Department, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77005; [email protected]
4Hydrocarbon Systems Resources Stratigraphy Core Group, ExxonMobil Exploration Co., Houston, Texas; [email protected]
5Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, Institut Universitaire de France, Universiteacute Versailles–St. Quentin, Uniteacute mixte CEA-CNRS, Av de la Terrasse, Domaine du CNRS F91198 GifsurYvett, France; [email protected]


This study focuses on the sedimentary fill of basin 4, the termination of the Brazos-Trinity minibasin slope system in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Results from multistratigraphic analyses of 15 giant piston cores provided (1) important information regarding the nature (hemipelagic versus gravity-induced mud and sand deposits) and the timing of the sedimentary fill; (2) some key chronostratigraphic constraints for the evolution of this system; and (3) strong links between well-known cycles of sea level change to clearly imaged deposits in the fill of basin 4. Gravity-flow–induced sedimentation in basin 4 occurred and increased in importance during the stepwise sea level regression that developed between 115 and 15 ka and clearly ceased just prior to the meltwater spike in the Gulf of Mexico dated at about 14 ka. The onset of gravity-induced deposition in basin 4 is dated at marine isotope stage (MIS) 5d (sim115 ka). This finding implies that sandy turbidity currents reached this distal setting as a consequence of a higher frequency sea level fall within a time of general high sea level (MIS 5). An interval of hemipelagic sedimentation lasting from 90 to 45 ka illustrates cessation of gravity-induced deposits in basin 4. Turbidite sandy deposits resumed in mid-MIS 3 and increased toward MIS 2 (approximately from 30 to 15 ka). The largest proportion of reservoir-grade sandy sediment was deposited during the maximum sea level lowstand of the last glacial maximum, consistent with the prevailing view of sequence-stratigraphic models for deep-water deposition.

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