From Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin (
For more information, please contact the author.

Bureau Seminar, April 4, 2003

Definition of the Geological Framework of the Neogene in the Southern Laguna Madre-Tuxpan Continental Shelf of Eastern Mexico

William Ambrose


An 18-month study of the Laguna Madre-Tuxpan area conducted by the Bureau of Economic Geology and Pemex Exploración y Producción will define major Miocene and Pliocene gas plays in the offshore Gulf of Mexico to a water depth of 500 m. The study area covers six 3-D surveys (>7,000 km2) and >8,000 linear km of 2-D seismic lines and links the Veracruz and Burgos Basins.

Laguna Madre-Tuxpan plays are structurally and stratigraphically complex, affording a unique opportunity to examine a complete coast-to-basin succession from valley fill to basin floor over a distance of less than 25 km. A dynamic, tectonically active setting coupled with an abundant sediment supply resulted in a greatly telescoped dip-dispersal system. Narrow shelf margins in the Laguna Madre-Tuxpan area represent an end member in the spectrum of shelf-margin types and promise to be of significant worldwide interest.

Plays in the Laguna Madre-Tuxpan study are defined from mappable geologic attributes. This study uses a threefold definition for plays based on (1) sequence-stratigraphic occurrence and age, (2) facies association, and (3) trap. A variety of plays and exploration opportunities exist in downdip areas in basin-floor and slope systems. Other areas in major fault-bounded depocenters contain numerous three-way fault-seal opportunities at many stratigraphic levels. Identification and mapping of these plays will yield a structural and stratigraphic framework for existing prospects and holds promise to identify a spectrum of additional opportunities in the basin.