Vol. 55, n.. 1, 2002, p. 30-37


  El potencial económico del Bloque de Yucatán en México, Guatemala y Belice

Joshua H. Rosenfeld*

Veritas Exploration Services 10300 Town Park Houston, Texas 77072

* This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Yucatan Block is a rifted continental microplate covering 450,000 km² of southern Mexico, northern Guatemala and Belize. The crystalline basement is mantled by a Late Jurassic through Recent carbonate/evaporite platform up to six km thick. The southern margin of the block was affected by Late Cretaceous suturing to the Chortis microplate followed by Miocene to Recent strike slip faulting. Its eastern margin was modified by Paleogene strike-slip against the Cuban Arc Terrane. The Yucatan Block has received very little terrigenous sedimentation since it was isolated from nearby landmasses by the Jurassic separation of North and South America.

There is major hydrocarbon production in Mexico from the area immediately west of the Yucatan Block in the Reforma Trend, Campeche Sound and the Macuspana Basin. Oil has also been found in the Sierra de Chiapas west and south of the block in Guatemala and Mexico; yet only one commercial oil accumulation has been found to date on the block itself, i.e.Xan Field in Guatemala. Mineral exploration has been limited to the small area of exposed basement in the Maya Mountains of Belize.

Based on current knowledge, it is the author’s opinion that the economic potential of the Yucatan Block cannot be discounted. Hydrocarbon exploration has been sporadic and generally low-tech, and there is a clear need for high quality regional seismic data to reveal the area’s structural configuration and sedimentary architecture. Among the many geological factors to be understood are:

1) the geometry of Triassic-Jurassic rift structures (horsts and graben).
2) the location and geometries of possible Jurassic and Cretaceous intraplatform hydrocarbon source basins, potential carbonate buildups, and structural traps within the evaporite/carbonate section.
3) paleo-heatflow as it affected organic maturation.
4) the effects within the block of tectonics along its margins (tilting, mass wasting and foreland bulging)
5) the effects of the Chicxulub K/T astrobleme.

Keywords: Yucatán, Chicxulub, Xan, Petroleum