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Tectonic Models

Since 1982 we have developed and refined tectonic models for the Caribbean region and surrounding areas such as the Gulf of Mexico, the Andes and the margins of the Equatorial Atlantic.

Our latest model (2020—2022) for the Gulf of Mexico focuses on the synrift history of the region, and dovetails with the drift history that is constrained by aeromagnetic data across the Gulf of Mexico. The model provides a framework for hydrocarbon exploration and spawn new research efforts across the region.

  • Rigorous plate tectonic model for the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Accommodates Bajocian age of the main Gulf salt basin.
  • New look at the Equatorial Atlantic fit.
  • Quantifies basement extension along western Florida.

Research Programs

The Mexico Cordillera Research Program was a 12-year collaborative research run by Tectonic Analysis and funded by BHP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Equinor, Nexen/CNOOC, Premier, Repsol, Hess, Total, ConocoPhillips, Cobalt, Shell, British Gas, Petrobras, ENI, Noble, and DEA.

The primary aim of our program was to characterise the clastic erosional source areas around the Gulf of Mexico for understanding sediment deposition into the Gulf of Mexico basins.

The program was carried out in collaboration with top academic institutions in Mexico, the USA, the UK and Switzerland.

  • Consisted of three research phases (I, II and III), which started in 2011. Phase III is completed.
  • All results are compiled into a fully integrated ArcGIS database built in ArcGIS Pro.
  • The ArcGIS Cordillera Project integrates a wealth of geospatial information linked to non-geospatial data.
  • The ArcGIS Pro Cordillera Project is a fundamental tool for all natural resources exploration companies active in continental Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico areas.

Atlases and Reports

Our reports are ideal launch pads for detailed prospect and block evaluations, helping to fast-track regional understanding for old and new team members and managers. All our reports are directly based on many years field and laboratory work in the region.

The collection of Exploration Framework Atlases have been recently updated and cover Colombia, Venezuela, Central Andes, Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Created in collaboration with NOCs, which allow us access to enormous amounts of primary data including seismic lines, well logs, field reports and maps.
  • Provide a concise synthesis of the geological history and petroleum systems of the regions.
  • Reports and maps are delivered in digital editable format.
  • Includes georefenced files for all palinspastic maps, for incorporation into client GIS projects.


Client-specific studies or assessments concerning paleotectonic and paleogeographic reconstruction and evolution at all scales from entire oceans to specific basins in various settings. Basin assessments using seismic packages and other data.


Paleogeographic analysis [of various regions]; Rifting and margin development; Detrital Geochronology; Thermochronology.


Tectonics, basin development, and paleogeographic analysis and evolution of: Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad/Barbados, Gulf of Mexico, Greater Caribbean, Atlantic opening history.


A number of field trips can be organised and led by Tectonic Analysis. Guides exist for the following trips, and modifications to trip content may be made at any time : Serranía del Interior Oriental (Eastern Venezuela), Trinidad, Barbados.


Thermal histories (t–T) of basement rocks and sedimentary infill. Quantification of burial and exhumation. Applications to hydrocarbon maturation.


Identification of source regions, and their exhumation histories.
1+ Years of Research
100+ Analyses
100+ Samples
100+ Outcrops

Our Team

A dynamic team of industry and academic associates.


Jim Pindell

Owner and Director
Jim Pindell has directed Tectonic Analysis Ltd. since 1986, which integrates plate tectonic data with geology to create regional evolutionary syntheses and to constrain aspects of petroleum systems. Concurrently, Jim has held academic research positions at Lamont Earth Observatory, Dartmouth College, Rice University, and Cardiff University (Wales). Jim has a PhD in geology from the University of Durham, England (1985), a MS from SUNY Albany (1982), and a BA from Colgate University (1979). Jim teaches, consults and directs industry-funded research programs, with past efforts in Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad, Barbados, the Andes, the Atlantic and its margins, the Caribbean islands, Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico. Jim has published about 80 papers and articles on these regions, and has been studying passive margin development with ION Geophysical in Houston since 2010.

Diego Villagómez Díaz

Senior Project Geologist
Diego is a binational Swiss–Ecuadorian geologist. He has hands-on experience in E&P of natural resources in Africa, Mexico, the Caribbean and northern South America. Diego has a PhD in Geology from the University of Geneva. Diego worked for IHS-Markit as a Regional Researcher for Sub-Saharan Africa, where he published hundreds of high-level reports on oil and gas E&P activity and advised major international oil companies (including all super majors: Shell, Eni, Total) on multimillion-dollar investment opportunities. In addition, he held a post-doctoral position at the University of Geneva until end-2019. He has also been working for Tectonic Analysis for a number of years in research projects covering Mexico, the Caribbean and the Northern Andes. He currently owns and runs Genereso Ltd. (Switzerland).

Recent publications

  • 2023

    Gondwana Research

    Pindell, J., Villagómez, D., Molina-Garza, R., Beltrán, A., Stockli, D., Wildman, M. 2023. Late Cretaceous–Miocene depositional evolution of Chiapas, Mexico: A foreland controlled by collision of Greater Antilles arc and the subsequent relative migration of the Chortís Block LINK

  • 2022

    Earth-Science Reviews

    Villagómez, D., Steffensen, C., Pindell, J., Molina-Garza, R., Gray, G., Graham, R., O'Sullivan, P.O., Stockli, D., Spikings, R. 2022. Tectono-sedimentary evolution of Southern Mexico. Implications for Cretaceous and younger source-to-sink systems in the Mexican foreland basins and the Gulf of Mexico LINK

    Journal of the Geological Society

    Pindell, J. and Heyn, T. 2022. Dynamo-thermal subsidence and sag–salt section deposition as magma-rich rifted margins move off plume centres along incipient lines of break-up. LINK

    Erlich, R., Hale-Erlich, W., Pindell, J., Saylor, J., Sullivan, P.O. 2022. Age and provenance of the Middle Jurassic Norphlet Formation of south Texas: stratigraphic relationship to the Louann Salt and regional significance. LINK

  • 2021

    Journal of South American Earth Sciences

    Sierra-Rojas, M., Molina-Garza, R., Pindell, J., Rodríguez-Rodríguez, R., Serrano-García, D. 2021. Paleomagnetism, magnetostratigraphy, provenance, and tectonic setting of the Lower Cretaceous of nuclear southern Mexico. LINK

  • 2020

    Geological Society of London Special Publication: SP504 The Basins, Orogens and Evolution of the Southern Gulf of Mexico and Northern Caribbean.

    Pindell, J., Villagómez, D., Molina-Garza, R., Graham, R., Weber, B. 2020. A revised synthesis of the rift and drift history of the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding regions in the light of improved age dating of the Middle Jurassic salt. LINK

    Pindell, J., Molina-Garza, R., Villagómez, D., Martens, U., Graham, R., Stockli, D., Weber, B., Sierra-Rojas, M.I. 2020. Provenance of the Miocene Nanchital conglomerate, western Chiapas Foldbelt, Mexico: implications for reservoir sands in the Sureste Basin, Greater Campeche ProvinceLINK

    Graham, R., Pindell, J., Villagómez, D., Molina-Garza, R., Granath, J. and Sierra-Rojas, M. 2020. Integrated Cretaceous–Cenozoic plate tectonics and structural geology in southern Mexico.LINK

    Gray, G., Villagómez, D., Pindell, J., Molina-Garza, R., O’Sullivan, P., Stockli, D., Farrell, W., Blank, D. and Schuba, J. 2020. Late Mesozoic and Cenozoic thermotectonic history of eastern, central and southern Mexico as determined through integrated thermochronology, with implications for sediment delivery to the Gulf of Mexico.LINK

    Erlich, R. E. and Pindell, J. 2020. Crustal origin of the West Florida Terrane, and detrital zircon provenance and development of accommodation during initial rifting of the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and western Bahamas.LINK

  • 2020

    GSA Special Publication 546: Southern and Central Mexico: Basement Framework, Tectonic Evolution, and Provenance of Mesozoic–Cenozoic Basins.

    Pindell, J., Weber, B., Hale-Erlich, W., Cossey, S., Bitter, M., Molina-Garza, R., Graham, R., and Erlich, R.N. 2020. Strontium isotope dating of evaporites and the breakup of the Gulf of Mexico and proto–Caribbean Seaway. LINK

    Villagómez, D. Pindell, J.L., and Spikings, R. 2020. Thermal history of the crystalline basement from the western and southern Gulf of Mexico: Implications for rifting and later events. LINK

    Villagómez, D. and Pindell, J. 2020. Cooling and uplift history of the Chiapas Massif. LINK

    Villagómez, D. and Pindell, J. 2020. Thermochronology of the southern Mexican Margin (Xolapa Belt), Acapulco to Puerto Angel: crustal dynamics of a trench–trench–transform triple junction. LINK

    Coombs, H., Kerr, A., Pindell, J., Buchs, D., Weber, B., and Solari, L. 2020. Petrogenesis of the crystalline basement along the Western Gulf of Mexico: Post-collisional magmatism during the formation of Pangaea. LINK

    Molina-Garza, R., Pindell, J., Coombs, H., Weber, B., and Pena-Alonso, T. 2020. Definition of tectonic elements in Tehuantepec, southeast Mexico: An integrated geophysical, geochronological, and stratigraphic perspective. LINK

    Molina-Garza, R., Lawton, T., Figueroa-Guadarrama, A., Pindell, J. 2020. Mexican record of circum–Gulf of Mexico Jurassic depositional systems and climate. LINK

    Molina-Garza, R., Lawton, T., Barboza-Gudino, J., Sierra-Rojas, M., Figueroa-Guadarrama, A., Pindell, J. 2020.Geochronology and correlation of the Todos Santos Group, western Veracruz and eastern Oaxaca States, Mexico: Implications for regional stratigraphic relations and the rift history of the Gulf of Mexico. LINK

  • Journal of South American Earth Sciences

    Molina-Garza, R., Pindell, J., Montaño-Cortés,P. 2020. Slab flattening and tractional coupling drove Neogene clockwise rotation of Chiapas Massif, Mexico: Paleomagnetism of the Eocene El Bosque Formation. LINK

  • 2019

    GCSSEPM: Salt Tectonics, Associated Processes, and Exploration Potential: Revisited 1989–2019. Transactions 37th Annual, Perkins-Rosen Research Conference

    Pindell, J., Villagómez, D., Horn, B. W., and Molina-Garza, R. 2019. Early to Middle Jurassic tectonic models for the Gulf of Mexico in light of new Bajocian ages for proximal salt deposition.LINK

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Tectonic Analysis

Tectonic Analysis Ltd. is a geological consulting company with over 35 years experience in the western hemisphere. Our company unites the state-of-the-art knowledge and research talents of academia with the experienced and practical skills of industry. We bring to each project the innovation, determination, and skills needed to succeed.