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Where are the Gulf of Mexico Late Paleogene Deepwater Reservoirs? Oh Canada.


Studies of Cenozoic paleo-drainage along the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains in interior western portions of North America suggest that, beginning in the late Eocene and ending in the early Miocene, a significant volume of water and detritus shed from the eastern slope of the swelling Laramide mountain chain drained northeastward via Canada's South Saskatchewan and Bell rivers. In the period before the Late Cenozoic North American glaciation, the Bell River flowed through the region now occupied by Hudson Bay, discharging into the Labrador Sea. A recent synthesis of paleo-drainage and paleo-valley studies in northwestern Montana, Colorado, and the Great Basin region of Nevada summarizes a growing body of evidence that the thick (>8 km) wedge of upper Eocene–lower Miocene sediments filling Saglek Basin in the northwestern Labrador Sea was sourced from western interior portions of the U.S., perhaps from as far away as southeastern Nevada and western Utah. To date this information has not been factored into our understanding of Gulf of Mexico depositional history. It is timely now to consider how the diversion of upper Eocene, Oligocene, and lower Miocene Laramide sediments away from the Gulf to a major depocenter in the eastern Canadian sub-arctic can perhaps aid geoscientists in developing a better understanding of early Paleogene deposystem evolution and reservoir development in the Gulf of Mexico Basin. Our work introduces a new quantitative analysis of Cenozoic deposystem accumulation rates in the Gulf of Mexico Basin and examines how the proposed Bell River–Saglek Basin conduit may explain mysteries, like why Oligocene reservoir prone section appears underrepresented in the deep Gulf of Mexico Basin.