FIGURE 1.1 ETOPO1 Global Relief Model of the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem with inset of the Gulf-Caribbean complex (based on data from Amante and Eakins, 2009).
SOURCE: Based on data from Amante, C. and B. W. Eakins, ETOPO1 1 Arc-Minute Global Relief Model: Procedures, Data Sources and Analysis. NOAA Technical Memorandum NESDIS NGDC-24, 19 pp, March 2009. Image constructed using Fledermaus visualization software (

Since the time of this rifting and deepening of the basin (about 180 mya), the GoM has continuously received large amounts of sediment from the surrounding continents with by far the greatest input coming from the central portion of the North American continent. The modern Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, with their extensive deltas and a deep-sea fan, are the most recent manifestations of this sedimentation. The organic debris, particulates, and dissolved nutrients introduced into the Gulf by these rivers ensured high primary productivity, high carbon-content sediments, and abundant hydrocarbon resource rocks. The subsidence of the basin along with the massive sediment loads provided by river input created the appropriate burial conditions (pressure and heat) to form oil and gas from these source rocks. Movement of the deeply buried salt created traps and paths

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