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Mid-Cretaceous Eustatic Sea Level Fall: Previous HitMagnitudeNext Hit and Timing in Gulf of Mexico

Richard C. Vierbuchen, Michael A. Oestmann, Stephen M. Greenlee

The Previous HitmagnitudeNext Hit and timing of a mid-Cretaceous sea level fall have been documented on the margins of the Gulf of Mexico in east Texas. Analysis of seismic, log, and paleontologic data from east Texas demonstrates that a fall of 60 to 100 m occurred at the end of Washita (mid-Cenomanian) time. This sea level fall has been identified elsewhere on the shelves of the Gulf of Mexico and is proposed to have caused the mid-Cretaceous unconformity of the deep sea and the termination of Washita carbonate deposition. We conclude that this sea level fall is of regional significance and eustatic origin. The Previous HitmagnitudeNext Hit and timing of the fall agree with those postulated by Vail and others, and Haq and others, who recognized a major sea level fall in mid-Cenomanian time.

The Previous HitmagnitudeTop of sea level fall is estimated from the difference in elevation between carbonate buildups on the Buda margin, which accumulated at or near sea level, and fluvial deposits in the lower Woodbine, which immediately overlie Buda carbonates and have been drilled up to 20 km basinward of the shelf margin. After constructing a datum along the preexisting Buda shelf, we measure the thickness of sediment from this datum to the onlapping fluvial, lower Woodbine siliciclastics. This measurement is then corrected for compaction, isostatic subsidence due to sediment loading, and thermotectonic subsidence.

The result, 60 m, is considered a minimum estimate. A similar measurement to the lowest seismically identified coastal onlap in the lower Woodbine yields an estimate of 100 m.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.