The Cretaceous carbonate platform that encircles the modern Gulf of Mexico is one of the largest and long-lived reef tracts in the history of the Earth. During the past 25 years, numerous boreholes have penetrated these Cretaceous reefs, providing an enormous database on reef communities. The Gulf of Mexico carbonate platforms provide superb laboratories to study the growth and demise of platforms. Platform development is related to a combination of local and regional tectonics, sea level, climate, oceanic conditions, and the evolutionary stage of the biosphere. A precise chronostratigraphy is a first requirement to demonstrate the effects of these factors. The accurate timing of global and regional events is necessary to assess the cause-effect relations. Although a very accurate sequence of Cretaceous events is known from the deep oceans and even for part of the Gulf of Mexico margins, a refined scale has yet to be achieved for the thick carbonate platform sections in parts of Mexico and Central America. Furthermore, the detailed stratigraphic section of the U.S. Gulf Coast cannot be related accurately to the tectonic events of the Cordillera of Mexico and the United States.
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