Advertisement

Marine Geophysical Research

, Volume 34, Issue 3–4, pp 341–365 | Cite as

The sedimentary, magmatic and tectonic evolution of the southwestern South China Sea revealed by seismic stratigraphic analysis

  • Lu Li
  • Peter D. Clift
  • Hung The Nguyen
Original Research Paper

Abstract

The southwestern South China Sea represents an area of continental crust frozen immediately before the onset of seafloor spreading. Here we compile a grid of multichannel seismic reflection data to characterize the continent-ocean transition just prior to full break-up. We identify a major continental block separated from the shelf margin by a basin of hyperextended crust. Oligocene-Early Miocene rifting was followed by mild compression and inversion prior to 16 Ma, probably linked to collision between the Dangerous Grounds, a continental block to the east of the study area, and Borneo. The timing of inversion supports models of seafloor spreading continuing until around 16 Ma, rather than becoming inactive at 20 Ma. The off-shelf banks experienced uplift prior to 16 Ma in an area, which had previously been a depocenter. The off-shelf banks continued to extend after this time when the rest of the region is in a phase of thermal subsidence. Post-rift magmatism is seen in the form of scattered seamounts (~5–10 km across) within or on the edge of the deeper basins, and are dated as Late Miocene and Pliocene. They are not clearly linked to any phase of tectonic activity. Further inversion of the off-shelf banks occurred in the Pliocene resulting in a major unconformity despite the lack of brittle faulting of that age. We speculate that this is part of a wider pattern of scattered magmatism throughout the South China Sea at this time. Prograding clinoforms are seen to build out from the shelf edge in the south of the study area during the Pliocene, after 5.3 Ma, and then more towards the north and east during the Pleistocene. At the same time a trough south of the off-shelf banks is filled with >1.35 km of mostly Pleistocene sediment. While we expect the bulk of the sediment to come from the Mekong River, we also suggest additional sediment supply from Borneo and the Malay Peninsula via the Molengraaff River and its predecessors.

Keywords

Seismic stratigraphy Extension Inversion Seamounts Clinoforms 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank PetroVietnam and Total Exploration and Production for providing data used in this study. The study benefited from comments by Jean-Luc Auxiètre and Gwang Hoon Lee.

References

  1. Barckhausen U, Roeser HA (2004) Seafloor spreading anomalies in South China Sea revisited. In: Clift P, Wang P, Kuhnt W, Hayes D (eds) Continent-ocean interactions within East Asian marginal seas, vol 149., Geophysical MonographAmerican Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp 121–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Briais A, Patriat P, Tapponnier P (1993) Updated interpretation of magnetic anomalies and seafloor spreading stages in the South China Sea: implications for the Tertiary tectonics of Southeast Asia. J Geophys Res 98:6299–6328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brookfield ME (1998) The evolution of the great river systems of southern Asia during the Cenozoic India-Asia collision; rivers draining southwards. Geomorphology 22(3–4):285–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carter A, Roques D, Bristow CS (2000) Denudation history of onshore central Vietnam: constraints on the Cenozoic evolution of the western margin of the South China Sea. Tectonophysics 322:265–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clark MK, Schoenbohm LM, Royden LH, Whipple KX, Burchfiel BC, Zhang X, Tang W, Wang E, Chen L (2004) Surface uplift, tectonics, and erosion of eastern Tibet from large-scale drainage patterns. Tectonics 23(TC1006)Google Scholar
  6. Clift PD (2006) Controls on the erosion of Cenozoic Asia and the flux of clastic sediment to the ocean. Earth Planet Sci Lett 241(3–4):571–580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clift P, Lin J (2001) Preferential mantle lithospheric extension under the South China margin. Mar Pet Geol 18(8):929–945CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clift PD, Sun Z (2006) The sedimentary and tectonic evolution of the Yinggehai-Song Hong Basin and the southern Hainan margin, South China Sea; implications for Tibetan uplift and monsoon intensification. J Geophys Res 111(B06405)Google Scholar
  9. Clift PD, Lin J, ODP Leg 184 Scientific Party (2001) Patterns of extension and magmatism along the continent-ocean boundary, South China margin. In: Wilson RCL, Whitmarsh RB, Taylor B, Froitzheim N (eds) Non-volcanic rifting of continental margins: a comparison of evidence from land and sea, vol 187. Special Publication. Geological Society, London, pp 489–510Google Scholar
  10. Clift PD, Layne GD, Blusztajn J (2004) Marine sedimentary evidence for monsoon strengthening, Tibetan uplift and drainage evolution in East Asia. In: Clift P, Kuhnt W, Wang P, Hayes D (eds) Continent-ocean Interactions in the East Asian Marginal seas, vol 149., Geophysical MonographAmerican Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp 255–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clift PD, Blusztajn J, Nguyen DA (2006) Large-scale drainage capture and surface uplift in eastern Tibet-SW China before 24 Ma inferred from sediments of the Hanoi Basin, Vietnam. Geophys Res Lett 33(L19403)Google Scholar
  12. Clift P, Lee GH, Nguyen AD, Barckhausen U, Hoang VL, Sun Z (2008) Seismic evidence for a dangerous grounds mini-plate: no extrusion origin for the South China Sea. Tectonics 27(TC3008)Google Scholar
  13. Cullen A, Reemst P, Henstra G, Gozzard S, Ray A (2010) Rifting of the South China Sea: new perspectives. Pet Geosci 16:273–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davis M, Kusznir NJ (2004) Depth-dependent lithospheric stretching at rifted continental margins. In: Karner GD (ed) Proceedings of NSF Rifted Margins Theoretical Institute. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 92–136Google Scholar
  15. Driscoll NW, Karner GD (1998) Lower crustal extension across the Northern Carnarvon basin, Australia: evidence for an eastward dipping detachment. J Geophys Res 103:4975–4991CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Franke D, Barckhausen U, Heyde I, Tingay M, Ramli N (2008) Seismic images of a collision zone offshore NW Sabah/Borneo. Mar Pet Geol 25:606–624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fyhn MBW, Boldreel LO, Nielsen LH (2009) Geological development of the Central and South Vietnamese margin: implications for the establishment of the South China Sea, Indochinese escape tectonics and Cenozoic volcanism. Tectonophysics 478(3–4):184–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gradstein FM, Ogg JG, Smith AG (2004) A Geologic Time Scale. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  19. Hanebuth TJ, Stattegger K, Saito Y (2002) The stratigraphic architecture of the central Sunda Shelf (SE Asia) recorded by shallow-seismic surveying. Geo-Mar Lett 22(2):86–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hazebroek HP, Tan DNK (1993) Tertiary tectonic evolution of the NW Sabah continental margin. Bul Persat Geol Malays 33:195–210Google Scholar
  21. Hoang LV, Wu FY, Clift PD, Wysocka A, Swierczewska A (2009) Evaluating the evolution of the Red River system based on in situ U-Pb dating and Hf isotope analysis of zircons. Geochem Geophys Geosyst 10(11)Google Scholar
  22. Holloway NH (1982) North Palawan Block, Philippines; its relation to Asian mainland and role in evolution of South China Sea. AAPG Bulletin 66:1355–1383Google Scholar
  23. Hsu SK, Sibuet JC (2004) Continent-ocean transition of the northern South China Sea and off southwestern Taiwan. Mar Geophys Res 25(1–2):1–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huchon P, Nguyen TNH, Chamot-Rooke N (2001) Propagation of continental break-up in the south-western South China Sea. In: Wilson RCL, Whitmarsh RB, Taylor B, Froitzheim N (eds) Non-volcanic rifting of continental margins: a comparison of evidence from land and sea, vol 187., Special PublicationGeological Society, London, pp 31–50Google Scholar
  25. Huismans RS, Beaumont C (2007) Roles of lithospheric strain softening and heterogeneity in determining the geometry of rifts and continental margins. In: Mapping and Modelling Continental Lithosphere Extension and Breakup, vol 282. Special Publication. Geological Society of London, pp 111–138Google Scholar
  26. Huismans RS, Buiter SJH, Beaumont C (2005) The Effect of plastic-viscous layering and strain-softening on mode selection during lithospheric extension. J Geophys Res 110(B02406)Google Scholar
  27. Hutchison CS (1996) The ‘Rajang accretionary prism’ and ‘Lupar Line’ problem of Borneo. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, v. 106, pp. 247–261Google Scholar
  28. Hutchison CS (2004) Marginal basin evolution; the southern South China Sea. Mar Pet Geol 21(9):1129–1148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hutchison CS (2005) Geology of North-West Borneo. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  30. Hutchison CS (2010) The North-West Borneo Trough. Mar Geol 271:32–43Google Scholar
  31. Hutchison CS, Vijayan VR (2010) What are the Spratly Islands? J Asian Earth Sci 39(5):371–385Google Scholar
  32. Kong P, Zheng Y, Caffee MW (2012) Provenance and time constraints on the formation of the first bend of the Yangtze River. Geochem Geophys Geosyst 13(Q06017)Google Scholar
  33. Kusznir NJ, Roberts AM, Morley CK (1995) Forward and reverse modelling of rift basin formation. In: Lambiase JJ (ed) Hydrocarbon habitat in rift basins, vol 80., Special PublicationGeological Society, London, pp 33–56Google Scholar
  34. Lee GH, Lee K, Watkins JS (2001) Geologic evolution of the Cuu Long and Nam Con Son basins, offshore southern Vietnam, South China Sea. AAPG Bulletin 85(6):1055–1082Google Scholar
  35. Leloup PH, Arnaud N, Lacassin R, Kienast JR, Harrison TM, Phan Trong T, Replumaz A, Tapponnier P (2001) New constraints on the structure, thermochronology, and timing of the Ailao Shan-Red River shear zone, SE Asia. J Geophys Res 106(B4):6657–6671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Leloup PH, Tapponnier P, Lacassin R, Searle MP (2007) Discussion on the role of the Red River shear zone, Yunnan and Vietnam, in the continental extrusion of SE Asia Journal, Vol 163, 2006, 1025–1036. J Geol Soc 164(5):1253–1260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Li Z, Qiu Z, Qin S, Pang X, Liang D, Teng Y, Li Y (1994) A study on the forming conditions of basalts in seamounts of the South China Sea. Chin J Geochem 13(2):107–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lithgow-Bertelloni C, Gurnis M (1997) Cenozoic subsidence and uplift of continents from time-varying dynamic topography. Geology 25:735–738CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lüdmann T, Wong HK (1999) Neotectonic regime on the passive continental margin of the northern South China Sea. Tectonophysics 311:113–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Matthews SJ, Fraser AJ, Lowe S, Todd SP, Peel FJ (1997) Structure, stratigraphy and petroleum geology of the SE Nam Con Son Basin, offshore Vietnam. In: Fraser AJ, Matthews SJ, Murphy RW (eds) Petroleum geology of Southeast Asia, vol 126., Special PublicationGeological Society, London, pp 89–106Google Scholar
  41. McKenzie DP, Bickle MJ (1988) The volume and composition of melt generated by extension of the lithosphere. J Petrol 29:625–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Métivier F, Gaudemer Y, Tapponnier P, Klein M (1999) Mass accumulation rates in Asia during the Cenozoic. Geophys J Int 137(2):280–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Molengraaff GAF, Weber ME (1921) On the relation between the Pleistocene glacial period and the origin of the Sunda Sea (Java and South China Sea), and its influence on the distribution of coral reefs and on the land- and freshwater fauna. Koninklijk Akademie van Wetenschappen, Proc Sect Sci 23(1):395–439Google Scholar
  44. Morley CK (2002) A tectonic model for the Tertiary evolution of strike-slip faults and rift basins in SE Asia. Tectonophysics 347(4):189–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Murray MR, Dorobek SL (2004) Sediment supply, tectonic subsidence, and basin-filling patterns across the southwestern South China Sea during Pliocene to Recent time. In: Clift P, Wang P, Kuhnt W, Hayes D (eds) Continent-ocean interactions within East Asian marginal seas, vol 149., Geophysical MonographAmerican Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp 235–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pérez-Gussinyé M, Reston T, Phipps Morgan J (2001) Serpentinized and magmatism during extension at non-volcanic margins—effects of initial lithosphere structure. In: Wilson RC (ed) Non-volcanic rifting of continental margins: a comparison of evidence from land and sea, vol 187., Special PublicationGeological Society, London, pp 551–576Google Scholar
  47. Peron-Pinvidic G, Manatschal G (2009) The final rifting evolution at deep magma-poor passive margins from Iberia-Newfoundland: a new point of view. Int J Earth Sci 98:581–1597Google Scholar
  48. Rangin C, Silver EA (1991) Neogene tectonic evolution of the Celebes Sulu basins; new insights from Leg 124 drilling. Proc ODP Sci Results 124:51–63Google Scholar
  49. Replumaz A, Tapponnier P (2003) Reconstruction of the deformed collision zone between India and Asia by backward motion of lithospheric blocks. J Geophys Res 108(B6):2285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Replumaz A, Lacassin R, Tapponnier P, Leloup PH (2001) Large river offsets and Plio-Quaternary dextral slip rate on the Red River fault (Yunnan, China). Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth 106(B1):819–836CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reston TJ, Krawczyk CM, Klaeschen D (1996) The S-reflector west of Galicia (Spain): evidence from prestack depth migration for detachment faulting during continental breakup. J Geophys Res 101(B4):8075–8091CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ru K, Pigott JD (1986) Episodic rifting and subsidence in the South China Sea. AAPG Bull 70(9):1136–1155Google Scholar
  53. Schlüter HU, Hinz K, Block M (1996) Tectono-stratigraphic terranes and detachment faulting of the South China Sea and Sulu Sea. Mar Geol 130:39–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sclater JG, Christie PAF (1980) Continental stretching: an explanation of the post Mid-Cretaceous subsidence of the central North Sea basin. J Geophys Res 85:3711–3739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Shi X, Kohn B, Spencer S, Guo X, Li Y, Yang X, Shi H, Gleadow A (2011) Cenozoic denudation history of southern Hainan Island, South China Sea: constraints from low temperature thermochronology. Tectonophysics 504:100–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Su D, White N, McKenzie D (1989) Extension and subsidence of the Pearl River mouth basin, northern South China Sea. Basin Res 2:205–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tapponnier P, Peltzer G, Armijo R (1986) On the mechanics of the collision between India and Asia. In: Coward M, Ries AC (eds) Collision tectonics, vol 19., Special PublicationGeological Society, London, pp 115–117Google Scholar
  58. Taylor B, Hayes DE (1983) Origin and history of the South China Sea basin. In: Hayes DE (ed) The tectonic and geologic evolution of the Southeast Asian Seas and Islands, vol 27. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp 23–56Google Scholar
  59. Tu K, Flower MFJ, Carlson RW, Zhang M, Xie G (1991) Sr, Nd, and Pb isotopic compositions of Hainan basalts (south China): implications for a subcontinental lithosphere Dupal source. Geology 19:567–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tucholke BE, Sawyer DS, Sibuet J-C (2007) Breakup of the Newfoundland-Iberia Rift. In: Karner GD, Manatschal G, Pinheiro LM (eds) Imaging, mapping and modelling continental lithosphere extension and breakup, vol 282., Special PublicationGeological Society, London, pp 9–46Google Scholar
  61. Vail PR, Mitchum RM, Todd RG, Widmier JM, Thompson SI, Sangree JB, Bubb JN, Hatlelid WG (1977) Seismic stratigraphy and global changes of sea-level. In: Payton CE (ed) Seismic stratigraphy–applications to hydrocarbon exploration, vol 26., MemoirAmerican Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, pp 49–212Google Scholar
  62. Walsh J, Watterson J, Yielding G (1991) The importance of small-scale faulting in regional extension. Nature 351:391–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wang P (2004) Cenozoic deformation and the history of sealand interactions in Asia. In: Clift P, Wang P, Kuhnt W, Hayes D (eds) Continent-ocean interactions in the East Asian marginal seas, vol 149. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp 1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. White RS (1997) Rift-plume interaction in the North Atlantic. Philos Trans R Soc Lond A Math Phys Sci 355:319–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. White RS, Spence GD, Fowler SR, McKenzie DP, Westbrook GK, Bowen AN (1987) Magmatism at rifted continental margins. Nature 330:439–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Whitmarsh RB, Manatschal G, Minshull TA (2001) Evolution of magma-poor continental margins from rifting to seafoor spreading. Nature 413:150–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Xue Z, Liu JP, DeMaster D, Nguyen LV, Ta TKO (2010) Late Holocene evolution of the Mekong subaqueous delta, Southern Vietnam. Mar Geol 269(1–2):46–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Yan P, Zhou D, Liu Z (2001) A crustal structure profile across the northern continental margin of the South China Sea. Tectonophysics 338:1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Yan Y, Carter A, Huang CY, Chan LS, Hu XQ, Lan Q (2012) Constraints on Cenozoic regional drainage evolution of SW China from the provenance of the Jianchuan Basin. Geophys Geochem Geosyst 13(Q03001)Google Scholar
  70. Yeh Y-C, Hsu S-K, Doo W-B, Sibuet J-C, Liu C-S, Lee C-S (2012) Crustal features of the northeastern South China Sea: insights from seismic and magnetic interpretations. Mar Geophys Res 1–20Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of GeosciencesUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK
  2. 2.Department of Geology and GeophysicsLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.Vietnam Petroleum InstituteHanoiVietnam

Personalised recommendations