Cedar Valley Realtor

Gulf of Mexico

The Gulf of Mexico (Spanish: Golfo de Mexico) is an ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba.[1] It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In Texas and Louisiana it is often called the "Third Coast," in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The shape of its basin is roughly oval and is approximately 810 nautical miles (1,500 km) wide and filled with sedimentary rocks and debris. It is connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the Florida Straits between the U.S. and Cuba, and with the Caribbean Sea (with which it forms the American Mediterranean Sea) via the Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba. With this narrow connection to the Atlantic, the Gulf experiences very small tidal ranges. The size of the Gulf basin is approximately 615,000 mi? (1.6 million km?). Almost half of the basin is shallow continental shelf waters. At its deepest it is 14,383 ft (4,384 m) at the Sigsbee Deep, an irregular trough more than 300 nautical miles (560 km) (550 km) long. The basin contains a volume of roughly 660 quadrillion gallons (2.5 ? 106 km3).[2] It was formed approximately 300 million years ago as a result of plate tectonics. The consensus among geologists,[3][5][6] who have studied the geology of the Gulf of Mexico, is that prior to Late Triassic, the Gulf of Mexico did not exist. Before the Late Triassic, the area now occupied by the Gulf of Mexico consisted of dry land, which included continental crust that now underlies Yucatan, within the middle of the large supercontinent of Pangea. This land lay south of a continuous mountain range that extended from north-central Mexico, through the Marathon Uplift in West Texas and the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma, and to Ala

ama where it linked directly to the Appalachian Mountains. It was created by the collision of continental plates that formed Pangea. As interpreted by Roy Van Arsdale and Randel T. Cox, this mountain range was breached in Late Cretaceous times by the formation of the Mississippi Embayment.[7][8] Geologists and other Earth scientists agree in general that the present Gulf of Mexico basin originated in Late Triassic time as the result of rifting within Pangea. The rifting was associated with zones of weakness within Pangea, including sutures where the Laurentia, South American, and African plates collided to create it. First, there was a Late Triassic-Early Jurassic phase of rifting during which rift valleys formed and filled with continental red beds. Second, as rifting progressed through Early and Middle Jurassic time, continental crust was stretched and thinned. This thinning created a broad zone of thick transitional crust, which displays modest and uneven thinning with block faulting, and a broad zone of uniformly thinned transitional crust, which is half the typical thickness, 35 kilometers, of normal continental crust. It was at this time that tectonics first created a connection to the Pacific Ocean across central Mexico and later eastward to the Atlantic Ocean. This flooded the subsiding basin created by rifting and crustal thinning to create the Gulf of Mexico. While the Gulf of Mexico was a restricted basin, the subsiding transitional crust was blanketed by the widespread deposition of Louann Salt and associated anhydrite evaporites. Initially, during the Late Jurassic, continued rifting widened the Gulf of Mexico and progressed to the point that sea-floor spreading and formation of oceanic crust occurred. At this point, sufficient circulation with the Atlantic Ocean was established that the deposition of Louann Salt ceased.