Skip to main content

Seismic features and origin of sediment waves in the Qiongdongnan Basin, northern South China Sea

Abstract

Sediment waves have been documented around the world for several decades, and their origins are still debated because of their various characteristics in different settings. Based on numerous high-resolution seismic profiles and two boreholes, sediment waves are identified in deepwater areas of the eastern Qiongdongnan Basin, and their distribution and seismic features are illustrated. Combined with the bathymetry, the potential origins of these sediment waves are discussed. Drilling in the central canyon revealed that the channel infill comprises some along-slope fine-grained turbidites, which are good reservoir for gas plays. The sediment waves are distributed on the banks of the central canyon and their seismic features indicate that most of them are caused by turbidity current overflows along the canyon. Although previous researches on these sediment waves suggested that they were of westward-flowing contourite origin, detailed topographic map derived from the seafloor reflector on seismic data shows that there is a N–S trending ridge at the east part of sediment wave zones, which could block and divert the bottom current. According to the geometry of sediment waves, the flow thicknesses across the entire wave field are calculated as 280–560 m, and the current velocity falls in the range of 30–130 cm/s, which would favor a fine-grained composition and could be a good reservoir because of the better sorting of turbidites than contourites or other gravity flow deposits.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9

References

  • Allen JRL (1984) Sedimentary structures, their character and physical basis. Elsevier, Amsterdam 663

    Google Scholar 

  • Bowen AJ, Normark WR, Piper DJW (1984) Modelling of turbidity currents on Navy Submarine Fan, California Continental Borderland. Sedimentology 31:169–185

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bühring C, Sarnthein M, Erlenkeuser H (2004) Toward a high resolution stable isotope stratigraphy of the last 1.1 m.y.: site 1144, South China Sea. In: Prell WL, Wang P, Blum P, Rea DK, Clemens SC (eds.), Proceedings of ODP scientific results, 184, pp 1–29

  • Chen PH, Chen ZY, Zhang QM (1993) Sequence stratigraphy and continental margin development of northwestern shelf of the South China Sea. AAPG Bull 77:842–862

    Google Scholar 

  • 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(B6, 28). doi:10.1029/2005JB004048

  • Damuth JE (1979) Migrating sediment waves created by turbidity currents in the northern South China Sea. Geology 7:520–523

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ercilla G, Alonso B, Wynn RB, Baraza J (2002a) Turbidity current sediment waves on irregular slopes: observations from the Orinoco sediment wave field. Mar Geol 192:171–187

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ercilla G, Wynn RB, Alonso B, Baraza J (2002b) Initiation and evolution of turbidity current sediment waves in the Magdalena turbidite system. Mar Geol 192:153–169

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hao SS, Huang ZL, Liu GD, Zheng YL (2000) Geophysical properties of cap rocks in Qiongdongnan Basin, South China Sea. Mar and Pet Geol 17:547–555

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • He YB, Gao ZZ (1999) The characteristics and recognition of internal-tide and internal-wave deposits. Chin Sci Bull 42(9):903–908

    Google Scholar 

  • He YL, Xie XN, Kneller BC, Wang ZF, Li XS (2013) Architecture and controlling factors of canyon fills on the shelf margin in the Qiongdongnan Basin, northern South China Sea. Mar and Pet Geol 41(1):264–276

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hoang, LV, Clift PD, Schwab AM, Huuse M, Nguyen DA, Zhen S (2010) Large-scale erosional response of SE Asia to monsoon evolution reconstructed from sedimentary records of the Song Hong-Yinggehai and Qiongdongnan Basins, South China Sea. In: Clift PD, Tada R, Zheng H (eds) Monsoon evolution and tectonic-climate linkage in Asia. Special publication, 342, Geological Society, London, pp 219–244

  • Howe JA (1996) Turbidite and contourite sediment waves in the northern Rockall Trough, North Atlantic Ocean. Sedimentology 43:219–234

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jallet L, Giresse P (2005) Construction of the Pyreneo-Languedocian sedimentary ridge and associated sediment waves in the deep western Gulf of Lions (Western Mediterranean). Mar Petrol Geol 22:865–888

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jiang T, Xie XN, Tang SL, Zhang C, Du XB (2007) Numerical simulation on the evolution of sediment waves caused by turbidity currents. Chin Sci Bull 52:2429–2434

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Laj C, Wang P, Y (2005) IPEV les rapports de campagnes àla mer. MD147/MARCOPOLO-IMAGES XII à bord du “Marion Dufresne”, 59

  • Li H, Wang YM, Zhu WL, Xu Q, He YB, Tang W, Zhuo HT, Wang D, Wu JP, Li D (2013) Seismic characterisitics and processes of the Plio-Quaternary unidirectionally migrating channels and contourites in the northern slope of the South China Sea. Mar Petrol Geol 43:370–380

    Google Scholar 

  • Loannis YG, Schindler JK (2009) Wave forecasting and longshore sediment transport gradients along a transgressive barrier island: Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana. Geo-Marine Lett 29:467–476

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lüdmann T, Wong HK, Wang P (2001) Plio-Quaternary sedimentation processes and neotectonics of the northern continental margin of the South China Sea. Mar Geol 172:331–358

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lüdmann T, Wong HK, Berglar K (2005) Upward flow of North Pacific Deep Water in thenorthern South China Sea as deduced from the occurrence of drift sediments. Geophys Res Lett 32:L05614. doi:10.1029/2004GL021967

    Google Scholar 

  • Normark WR, Hess GR, Stow DAV, Bowen AJ (1980) Sediment waves on the Monterey fan levee: a preliminary physical interpretation. Mar Geol 37:1–18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Normark WR, Piper DJW, Posamentier H (2002) Variability in form and growth of sediment waves on turbidite channels levees. Mar Geol 192:23–58

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pang X, Chen C, Wu M, He M, Wu X (2006) The Pearl River deep-water fan systems and significant geological events. Adv Earth Sci 21:793–799 (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Piper DJW, Savoye B (1993) Processes of late Quatenary turbidity current flow and deposition on the Var deep-sea fan, north-west Mediterranean Sea. Sedimentology 40:557–582

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Richards PC, Ritchie JD, Thompson AR (1987) Evolution of deep water climbing dunes in the Rockall Trough implication for overflow currents across the Wyville Thompson Ridge in the Late Miocene. Mar Geol 76:177–183

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shanmugam G (2000) 50 years of the turbidite paradigm (1950s–1990s): deep-water processes and facies models—a critical perspective. Mar Petrol Geol 17:285–342

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shao L, Li X, Wei G, Liu Y, Fang D (2001) Provenance of a prominent sediment drift on the northern slope of the South China Sea. Sci China D 44:919–925

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shao L, Li X, Geng J, Pang X, Lei Y, Qiao P, Wang L, Wang H (2007) Deep water bottom current deposition in the northern South China Sea. Sci China D 50(7):1060–1066

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith WHF, Sandwell DT (1997) Global seafloor topography from satellite altimetry and ship depth soundings. Since 277(5334):1956–1962. doi:10.1126/science.277 5334.1956

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Su M, Xie XN, Xie YH, Wang ZH, Zhang CH, Jiang T, He YL (2013) The segmentations and the significances of the Central Canyon System in the Qiongdongnan Basin, northern South China Sea. J Asian Earth Sci. doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2012.12.038

  • Traykovski P, Wiberg PL, Geyer WR (2007) Observations and modelling of wave-supported sediment gravity flows on the Po prodelta and comparison to prior observations from the Eel shelf. Cont Shelf Res 27:375–399

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wang ZF (2012) Important deepwater hydrocarbon reservoirs: the central canyon system in the Qiongdongnan Basin. Acta Sedimentol Sin 30(4):646–653 (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  • Wang L, Sarenthein M, Erlenkeuser H, Grimalt J, Grootes P, Heilig S, Ivanova E, Kienast M, Pelejero C, Pflaumann U (1999) East Asian monsoon climate during the late Pleistocene: high-resolution sediment records from the South China Sea. Mar Geol 156:245–284

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wang P, Prell WL, Blum P (eds) (2000) Proceedings of ODP, Init. Repts, vol 184. Ocean Drilling Program, Texas A&M University, College Station TX, 77845-9547, USA

  • Wang HR, Yuan SQ, Gao HF (2010) The contourite system and the framework of contour current circulation in the South China Sea. Geo-Temas 11:189–190

    Google Scholar 

  • Wynn RB, Stow DAV (2002a) Classification and characterisation of deep-water sediment waves. Mar Geol 192:7–22

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wynn RB, Stow DAV (2002b) Recognition and interpretation of deep-water sediment waves: implications for palaeoceanography, hydrocarbon exploration and flow process interpretation. Mar Geol 192:1–4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wynn RB, Weaver PPE, Ercilla G, Stow DAV, Masson DG (2000) Sedimentary processes in the Selvage sediment wave field, NE Atlantic: new insights into the formation of sediment waves by turbidity currents. Sedimentology 47:1181–1198

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Xie LL (2009) Study on the circulation in Western Northern Pacific and the water exchange between the Pacific and the South China Sea. Ph.D thesis, Ocean University of China, pp 53–59 (in Chinese with English abstract)

  • Xie XN, Müller RD, Li ST, Gong ZS, Steinberger B (2006) Origin of anomalous subsidence along the northern South China Sea margin and its relationship to dynamic topography. Mar Pet Geol 23(7):745–765

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Xie XN, Müller RD, Ren JY, Jiang T, Zhang C (2008) Stratigraphic architecture and evolution of the continental slope system in offshore Hainan, northern South China Sea. Mar Geol 247:129–144

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Xie XN, Su M, Xie YH, Wang ZF, Song GQ, Lu YC, Ren JY (2010) Depositional architecture and evolution of the central canyon in offshore Hainan, northern South China Sea. Geo-Temas 11:85–86

    Google Scholar 

  • Yuan SQ, Lü FL, Wu SG, Yao GS, Ma Y, Fu YH (2009) Seismic stratigraphy of the Qiongdongnan deep sea channel system, northwest South China Sea. Chin J Oceanol Limnol 27:250–259

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhong G, Li Q, Hao H, Wang L (2007) Current status of deep-water sediment wave studies and the South China Sea perspectives. Adv Earth Sci 22:907–913 (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The study is a contribution to the projects the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 91028009 and 40806019), the Special Foundation for State Major Basic Research Program of China (No. 2011ZX05025-0020-020-03), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (CUGL100409). We would like to acknowledge the Zhanjiang Branch of China National Offshore Oil Corporation for providing geological data. In addition, we are grateful for the constructive comments and insightful suggestions from guest editor Prof. Peter Clift and two anonymous reviewers.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tao Jiang.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Jiang, T., Xie, X., Wang, Z. et al. Seismic features and origin of sediment waves in the Qiongdongnan Basin, northern South China Sea. Mar Geophys Res 34, 281–294 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11001-013-9198-0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11001-013-9198-0

Keywords

  • Qiongdongnan Basin
  • Sediment wave
  • Turbidity current
  • Contourite
  • South China Sea