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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Houston Geological Society


Field Seminar of the Big Bend, Trans-Pecos Region, Texas, 1986
Pages 74-101

Episodic Sedimentation in the Rio Grande-Trans Pecos Region as Related to Periods of Tectonic Activity

Martin J. Oldani


The Rio Grande-Trans Pecos region of West Texas and northeastern Mexico is a highly complex geologic province, where a repetition of tectonic events since the Precambrian has resulted in the continual formation, destruction, and reformation of structural receiving basins. For each phase of tectonic activity that has occurred, syntectonic sediments were deposited. The position and character of these deposits in the record section serves to date and characterize each tectonic event.

The local tectonic history of the region is a product of the influences of the overall tectonics of the North American craton. The location of the area in the south central portion of the active North American craton points to this fact. Major tectonic events with associated syntectonic sedimentation took place in the region during the Precambrian, late Paleozoic, early to middle Mesozoic, late Mesozic to early Cenozoic, and late Cenozoic.

The earliest syntectonic sedimentation in the region occurred during the Precambrian, in response to alternating rifting and compressional events. During the late Paleozoic (Mississippian to Permian), the Ouachita compressional event resulted in a series of syntectonic deposits, accounting for essentially all of the Paleozoic synorogenic sedimentation. From early to middle Mesozoic, syntectonic conglomerates accumulated around the perimeter of the Chihuahua Trough. The Rio Grande Embayment became a primary area for syntectonic sedimentation with the late Mesozoic uplift, folding, and thrusting activity of the Laramide Orogeny. A late Cretaceous clastic sequence accumulated in the northwestern end of the Rio Grande Embayment (Maverick and Sabinas Basins). Synorogenic sedimentation in the Rio Grande Embayment continued into the Cenozoic, culminating with lower Eocene deltaic sediments. Syntectonic sedimentation associated with the Laramide event also continued to take place within the Rio Grande-Trans Pecos region. In middle Cenozoic time, Basin and Range deformation resulted in syntectonic sedimentation in intermontane basins. Also at this time, tectonically derived sediments once again accumulated in the Rio Grande Embayment.

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