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The Laramide Submarine Fan: A Lower Tertiary Wilcox Trend in the Deepwater Mexican Gulf of Mexico

Anthony Rodriguez
[email protected]

The Lower Tertiary Wilcox trend has become a major hydrocarbon play in the U.S. Deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and is estimated to have as much as 15 billion barrels of oil equivalent in reserves. Recent Wilcox crude oil discoveries such as Buckskin, Cascade, Great White, Jack/St. Malo, and Tiber have only tapped the surface of the hydrocarbon potential that awaits this frontier play, and much of the trend has yet to be explored. For the past several years, crude oil discoveries of the Lower Tertiary Wilcox trend have only been found in the U.S. Deepwater GOM. However, in 2012, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) made their first discovery of crude oil in the Deepwater Mexican Gulf of Mexico (MGOM) with their Trion-1 well in the southern extent of the Perdido Passive Margin Foldbelt. The U.S. Rocky Mountains have long been recognized as the provenance for the Lower Tertiary Wilcox trend in the western GOM. This study proposes an additional source of Wilcox-equivalent sediments from the Sierra Madre Oriental Fold-and-Thrust Belt (SMOFTB) during the Laramide orogeny in central Mexico (Late Cretaceous to late Eocene). The Laramide Submarine Fan derived from this orogenic phase spans the entire western GOM (U.S. and Mexico) and is ~500-km-wide and ~3.5-km-thick. The proximity of the SMOFTB (~200 km) to the MGOM compared to the U.S. Rocky Mountains (~1500-2000 km) in addition to the timing of Laramide orogeny in central Mexico supports a foreland basin wedge, the Laramide Submarine Fan, splaying outboard into the western GOM.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90167©2013 GCAGS and GCSSEPM 63rd Annual Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana, October 6-8, 2013