Gulf of Mexico Basin Depositional Record of Cenozoic North American Drainage Basin Evolution

  1. Michael D. Blum2,
  2. Susan B. Marriott3 and
  3. Suzanne F. Leclair4
  1. William E. Galloway

Published Online: 17 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304350.ch22

Fluvial Sedimentology VII

Fluvial Sedimentology VII

How to Cite

Galloway, W. E. (2005) Gulf of Mexico Basin Depositional Record of Cenozoic North American Drainage Basin Evolution, in Fluvial Sedimentology VII (eds M. D. Blum, S. B. Marriott and S. F. Leclair), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304350.ch22

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

  2. 3

    School of Geography and Environmental Management, University of the West of England, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK

  3. 4

    Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Tulane University, Dimwiddie Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA

Author Information

  1. Institute for Geophysics, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 15 FEB 2005

Book Series:

  1. Special Publication Number 35 of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Book Series Editors:

  1. Ian Jarvis

Series Editor Information

  1. School of Earth Sciences and Geography, Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston-upon-Thames KT1 2EE, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405126519

Online ISBN: 9781444304350



  • Gulf of Mexico Basin depositional record of Cenozoic North American drainage basin evolution;
  • Cenozoic depositional history of Gulf of Mexico basin;
  • cenozoic depositional episodes;
  • cenozoic sediment supply patterns;
  • continental source areas;
  • geography of gulf sediment input;
  • drainage basin evolution and supply history


A comprehensive synthesis of the Cenozoic depositional history of the Gulf of Mexico basin has integrated data from the coastal plain, shelf, slope and deep basin. Twenty widely recognized Cenozoic genetic-stratigraphy sequences record major and minor depositional episodes of the northern Gulf basin. Results of this synthesis provide a picture of the location and relative importance of principal fluvial systems that drained the interior of North America.

Major observations include:

1 Five principal and three secondary, long-lived, extrabasinal fluvial–deltaic axes provided the bulk of the sediment that infilled the northern Gulf basin.

2 Paleocene through to middle Eocene pulses of Laramide uplift along the Central and Southern Rockies and Sierra Madre Oriental supported the early Cenozoic depositional episodes. Late Eocene through to early Oligocene crustal heating, volcanism and consequent uplift and erosion of much of central Mexico and the south-western USA nourished major Oligocene through to early Miocene depositional episodes.

3 Initiation of erosion during the early to middle Miocene of the Cumberland Plateau and Appalachians invigorated supply to the east-central Gulf basin. At the same time, the high-standing Rocky Mountain uplands experienced continued regional exhumation. Whether climate change or uplift triggered this Miocene phase of erosion remains controversial; current literature favours climatic causes.

4 Pliocene uplift of the western High Plains further rejuvenated north-western sources and created a broad eastward slope that converged with the west-sloping alluvial apron of the eastern interior. Converging streams were variously combined and directed southward, forming the distinct Red, Mississippi and Tennessee fluvial axes that dominated middle Pliocene through to Holocene sedimentation.

5 High rates of Pleistocene sediment accumulation reflect rapid Quaternary climate cycling, and glacial erosion and runoff directly into the principal sediment transport systems.