Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 181–189 | Cite as

Seismic stratigraphy of the western South Korea Plateau, East Sea: implications for tectonic history and sequence development during back-arc evolution

  • Y. K. Kwon
  • S. H. Yoon
  • S. K. Chough


The western South Korea Plateau in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) is occupied by rifted continental fragments formed in association with the early phase of back-arc opening. The present study focuses on the seismic stratigraphy of the sedimentary succession and the underlying acoustic basement in this region, based on closely spaced multichannel seismic reflection profiles. The sedimentary succession occurs mainly within a series of subparallel basement troughs (grabens or half grabens) bounded by faulted continental blocks (horsts) or volcanic ridges, and commonly floored by extrusive volcanic rocks showing hyperbolic reflectors. These features are strongly suggestive of continental rifting accompanied by normal faulting, volcanic activity and high rates of basin subsidence. The sedimentary succession can be subdivided into four seismic units. Unit 1 is characterized by short and irregular high-amplitude reflectors and interpreted as a syn-rift deposit consisting of a non-marine volcanics/sediment complex in topographic lows. Units 2 and 3 formed in an open marine environment during the Middle Miocene to Early Pliocene, characterized by an onlap-fill and later draping marine sedimentary succession dominantly composed of hemipelagic sediments and turbidites with frequent intercalation of mass-flow deposits. Along the western margin of the plateau, these units were deformed under a compressional regime in the Early Pliocene, associated with the back-arc closing phase. Unit 4 (deposited since the Early Pliocene) comprises hemipelagic sediments and turbidites with evidence of sporadic slides/slumps.


Debris Flow Middle Miocene Sedimentary Succession Continental Rift Ulleung Basin 
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This study was funded to Kwon by the Agency for Defense Development, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (Korea), and to Chough by the Korea Research Foundation (KRF2008-341-C00040). We are grateful to B.J. Ryu and C.W. Lee (Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources) as well as Y.G. Kim (Agency for Defense Development) for the use of seismic profiles. Thanks are extended to J.M. Kim (Korea Basic Science Institute) for helpful discussion on age dating. We are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers and the journal editors for useful and constructive comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Petroleum and Marine Resources DivisionKorea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral ResourcesDaejeonKorea
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Marine Sciences/Marine and Environmental Research InstituteCheju National UniversityJejuKorea
  3. 3.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea

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