Basement Structural Controls on Mesozoic Carbonate Facies in Northeastern Mexico—a Review

  1. Maurice E. Tucker2,
  2. James Lee Wilson3,
  3. Paul D. Crevello4,
  4. J. Rick Sarg5 and
  5. J. Fred Read6
  1. J. L. Wilson

Published Online: 15 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444303834.ch9

Carbonate Platforms: Facies, Sequences and Evolution

Carbonate Platforms: Facies, Sequences and Evolution

How to Cite

Wilson, J. L. (1986) Basement Structural Controls on Mesozoic Carbonate Facies in Northeastern Mexico—a Review, in Carbonate Platforms: Facies, Sequences and Evolution (eds M. E. Tucker, J. L. Wilson, P. D. Crevello, J. Rick Sarg and J. F. Read), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444303834.ch9

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Durham, UK

  2. 3

    New Braunfels, Texas, USA

  3. 4

    Littleton, Colorado, USA

  4. 5

    Midland, Texas, USA

  5. 6

    Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Author Information

  1. 1316 Patio Drive, New Braunfels, Texas 78130, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 22 DEC 1986

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632027583

Online ISBN: 9781444303834



  • basement structural controls on Mesozoic carbonate facies – northeastern Mexico;
  • tectonic basement framework;
  • Mesozoic fault blocks;
  • Coahuila block;
  • golden lane platform


Clear marine tropical water and the proper oceanographic environment cause formation of carbonate ramps and rimmed platforms but their trends and orientations are controlled partly by tectonic basement framework. Elongate buildups may form parallel to subsiding passive cratonal margins, or platforms may develop over and around fault blocks along such borders. In many instances, individual isolated and steep buildups rise from earlier formed wide platforms of low relief. Narrow platform rims, with a widely recognized spectrum of carbonate facies, may evolve around major subsiding basins.

With the opening of the Gulf of Mexico in early Mesozoic time, left-lateral, northwest-directed rifting occurred through eastern Mexico, cutting across a previously emplaced Permo–Triassic orogenic belt bordered on its east by Triassic granodiorite batholiths. This orogenic belt may have a western provenance and may have been moved east against a coastward continuation of the Quachita–Marathon metamorphic rocks, or it simply may be a dislocated western continuation of this belt. A prominent series of blocks and intervening basins developed in the region during the succeeding Liassic rifting. Maps are presented along with discussion of the complex basement.

Topographic relief produced variations in sedimentation during the irregular but continued transgression during Jurassic and Cretaceous times. The rift-produced grabens were filled with redbeds and arkose, followed by evaporites in middle Jurassic time, and at the beginning of late Jurassic, basinal evaporites and oolitic grainstones surrounded some uplifts. The positive tectonic blocks partly controlled development of spectacular rimmed platforms in the late Mesozoic, responding to renewed subsidence and to development of organic framework potential of both corals and large bivalves.

A Lower Cretaceous carbonate platform developed around the Coahuila block and across the mouth of Sabinas Basin to the Sligo reef trend of Texas. A reef trend also formed along a N–S directed tectonic ridge of Precambrian gneiss and late Palaeozoic schist on the east side of the Valles platform; perhaps it encircled the area to form a large atoll with a central evaporite basin. Gulfward subsidence of the Tamaulipas arch, Golden Lane and Cordova basement prevented shallow-water carbonate development here during early Cretaceous time. In middle Cretaceous the Sabinas Basin was encircled by reefy development around the Coahuila block and along the west flank of the Burro–Salado uplift. This continued up the Gulf Coast of Texas as the Stuart City (Deep Edwards) reef trend. Middle Cretaceous Valles and Golden Lane platforms kept up with subsidence, grew to heights approaching 1000m, and furnished debris into the Chicontepec Basin separating the platforms. The smaller El Doctor and Toliman banks and the narrow Actopan extension result from basement block fragmentation along the Transverse Mexican Neovolcanic belt which must have been a major lineament separating northern from southern Mexico. The major platforms continued development into Turonian time despite general sea-level lowerings during the middle Cretaceous.

Jurassic oolite, Cretaceous reefs and forereef debris furnish excellent reservoir rock and provide large oil fields in central and southern Mexico. The Mesozoic of Mexico can be used as a model for predicting trends of carbonate reservoir development in both North Africa and the Middle East.