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Physiography of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea

  • Elazar Uchupi

Abstract

The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea have attracted the attention of many geological investigators because of their topographic complexity. Early students suggested that both regions were sites of landmasses that had subsided to their present depths or been oceanized. Others have treated both areas as permanent oceanic basins with one (Gulf of Mexico) being surrounded by landmasses and the other (Caribbean) by island arcs and geosynclines (Paine and Meyerhoff, 1970; Meyerhoff and Meyerhoff, 1972). Recent investigators have attempted to explain their complex tectonics and stratigraphy, particularly the Caribbean, in the light of global tectonics. Proponents of sea-floor spreading have suggested that the Caribbean is a remnant of pre-Mesozoic sea floor trapped between the westerly drifting American continents and later sealed from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans by subduction zones (Deuser, 1970; Edgar et al., 1971; Malfait and Dinkelman, 1972). Other mobilists have interpreted the Caribbean as a young ocean basin formed during separation of the American continents (Funnell and Smith, 1968; Ball and Harrison, 1969, 1970; JOIDES, 1971). The present report attempts to describe the physiography of both areas in the light of seismic reflection data collected by numerous investigators during the past decade, data from the Deep-Sea Drilling Project, and a new detailed bathymetric chart of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. These new data greatly expand the fund of critical knowledge and have resulted in new insights into the origin and evolution of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.

Keywords

United States Geological Survey Seismic Reflection Profile Salt Diapir Mississippi Delta North American Plate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Note Added in Proof

  1. Since the manuscript on the physiography of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea was written, the following papers have been published which will be of interest to readers: Dillon, W. P., Vedder, J. G., and Graf, R. J., 1972, Structural profile of the Northwestern Caribbean: Earth and Planet. Sci. Letters, v. 17, p. 175–180.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elazar Uchupi
    • 1
  1. 1.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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