The northern slope of South China Sea; an ideal site for studying passive margin extension and breakup

Online Access: Get full text
Author(s): Zhou, D.; Sun, Z.; Pang, X.; Wu, X.; Xu, H.; Qiu, N.
Author Affiliation(s): Primary:
Chinese Academy of Sciences, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Guangzhou, China
China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Shenzhen Branch, China
Volume Title: AGU 2011 fall meeting
Source: American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Vol.2011; American Geophysical Union 2011 fall meeting, San Francisco, CA, Dec. 5-9, 2011. Publisher: American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, United States
Note: In English
Summary: With the advance of hydrocarbon exploration into deep waters of the northern SCS, structural details from continental slope to deepsea basin have been revealed. A striking feature is the dramatic change in Cenozoic extension along and across the strike as well as with the time. Along strike the slope is separated by lithospheric faults into segments with different amount of Cenozoic extension. The breakup occurred in the no-extension eastern segment (the Chaoshan Depression), the most strongly extended central segment (the Baiyun sag) but failed in the western segment of intermediate extension (the Qingdongnan Basin). This pattern violates the expectation that breakup occurs at first where the extension reached the maximum. In the central segment, the style of extension varies significantly in dip direction. Differing from the belts of half grabens in the shelf, the extension is expressed as a large downwarp (the Baiyun sag) in the slope, and as irregularly shaped sags (the Liwan sag) near the continental-oceanic boundary (COB). The Baiyun sag (BYS) is the largest and deepest sag in the Pearl River mouth basin (PRMB). Long-cable MCS revealed that at the center of the BYS the crust thinned to <7 km. Grabens and half-grabens are seen only along the SW border of the BYS in Paleogene and did not control the main subsidence of the sag. In Neogene, swarms of NWW-striking small faults developed in the SW and NE flanks of the sag. These features indicate that ductile extension had dominated the formation of the BYS. Suppose the SCS started opening at 30 Ma (although no breakup unconformity found at 30 Ma in the ODP#1148 well adjacent to the COB), the anomalous post-breakup subsidence in the BYS exceeds that predicted by classical model by 1∼2 km and occurred most strongly in several periods. Similar anomalous post-breakup subsidence has been observed also in the shelf. The Liwan sag (LWS) SE of the BYS is an aggregate of NS-, NW-, EW-, and NE-elongated narrow and short sags. Its complex shape differs from that of any other sag in the northern SCS, also differs from that of the lower slope of SE Atlantic margin and the Gulf of Mexico where thrust belts developed by gravitational sliding. Multi-staged magmatic activities have contributed to but could not fully explain the structural complexities of the LWS. Perhaps basement structures have played an important role as the sag might be developed upon the relict Mesozoic West Pacific subduction system. In addition, two horizons of deep-seated waving reflectors are identified beneath the LWS, which are suspected to be respectively a detachment surface and the intra-crustal shear zones related to lower-crust flow. A good understanding of these features may help answering the fundamental question on what controls the style, magnitude, and segmentation of passive margin extension and breakup, what is the mechanism, and what differences between marginal sea and open oceans in their evolution and dynamics. Preliminary attempt has been made taking into account basement structure, kinematics of bounding blocks, lithospheric rheology, lower crustal flow, as well as enhanced sediment supply by monsoon strengthening. This study is funded by CNSF40976033.
Year of Publication: 2011
Research Program: ODP Ocean Drilling Program
Key Words: 18 Geophysics, Solid-Earth; Cenozoic; Crust; Deep-sea environment; Leg 184; Lithosphere; Marine environment; Neogene; North Pacific; Northwest Pacific; ODP Site 1148; Ocean Drilling Program; Oceanic crust; Pacific Ocean; Paleogene; Passive margins; Plate tectonics; South China Sea; Subsidence; Tertiary; West Pacific
Coordinates: N185010 N185010 E1163356 E1163356
Record ID: 2015038376
Copyright Information: GeoRef, Copyright 2019 American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by, and/or abstract, Copyright, American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, United States