Sedimentary budget of the Southwest Sub-basin, South China Sea: Controlling factors and geological implications

Abstract

Calculation of the sediment budget in the South China Sea abyssal basin lacks constraints from drilling data and reinterpretation of seismic data. On the basis of six multichannel seismic profiles across the Southwest Sub-basin (SWSB) and the drilling data from International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 349, we divided the Cenozoic sediments into four sedimentary units. The sedimentary budget of the abyssal basin at different geological times was calculated. The previous works in the Mekong continental shelf and slope areas were integrated to calculate the sediment budget of the whole SWSB. Our researches show that the sediment budget in the SWSB increased during the Palaeogene and reached its first peak because of intensified erosion, which might have resulted from the continued uplift of the Tibetan Plateau and accelerated southeastward extrusion of the Indo-China Peninsula. Since the Late Miocene, the sediment budget was mainly influenced by the East Asia monsoon, that is, the intensified winter monsoon decreased the sediment budget of the entire area during the Late Miocene, whereas the strengthened summer monsoon increased the sediment budget during the Pliocene and reached a peak during the Pleistocene. The sediment budgets of the Mekong continental shelf, the Mekong continental slope, and the abyssal basin have distinct characteristics, relating to the infilling sequence of the terrestrial sediments in different regions. The sediment provenance of the SWSB was mainly from the Indo-China Peninsula, the Nansha area, and the Palawan before the Late Miocene. After that time, sediments were mainly transported from the modern Mekong River.

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