Modern Carbonate Sediments and Environments of the La Paz Region, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Jochen Halfar, James C. Ingle Jr., Rodolfo Cruz-Orozco, and
The Gulf of California represents one of the most productive and unique marginal seas in the world. The mouth of the gulf captures warm equatorial water while annual wind patterns assure major upwelling of nutrient-rich water leading to a rich marine biota. These conditions have created a wide array of tropical through warm temperate carbonate environments. The most unusual of these environments is located in the La Paz region of Baja California Sur where tropical-subtropical water temperatures and low rainfall have allowed growth of corals, calcareous red algae, and other shelled invertebrates to form a carbonate bank environment. Sampling and mapping transects in shallow bays north of La Paz and on the adjacent Espiritu Santo island have revealed a full spectrum of subenvironments including mangrove bordered, terrigenous mud dominated coastal zones, which grade into carbonate tidal flats. in addition, single coral heads as well as incipient reef structures constructed by Porites and Pocillopora coral are present in deeper water areas. Coralline red algae, which are increasingly utilized for paleoenvironmental reconstructions, grow in high abundance on coral debris and in soft sediments and turn out to be main contributors to the La Paz carbonates.
Analysis of siliciclastic admixtures, grain size and organic carbon content allow a classification of distinct environments. These data are supplemented by an evaluation of benthic foraminiferal zonations and the varying abundance of biogenic constituents.
This Baja California Sur carbonate environment holds special relevance for the Interpretation of analogous Neogene and Paleogene paleoenvironments marking major paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic events along the Pacific Coast of North America.
AAPG Search and Discover Article #91019©1996 AAPG Convention and Exhibition 19-22 May 1996, San Diego, California