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Spatial-temporal evolution of the source-to-sink system in the northwestern South China Sea from the Eocene to the Miocene

Abstract : The northwestern South China Sea (NW-SCS) presents a spatial-temporal evolution of its source-to-sink (S2S) system, that recorded the movement of the Indochina block and the collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates. However, complex tectonic movements and topographic evolution have led to controversial studies about the spatial-temporal distribution of allogenic materials and autogenic sediments. In this study, we integrated a number of multiscale data to review the S2S system evolution of the northwestern area of the South China Sea from the Eocene to the Miocene. The series include the initial synrift, postrift and thermal subsidence stages. First, we identified the major sediment pathways using seismic profile interpretation. We reconstructed the sediment distribution and lithofacies association within the dispersal sink area based on seismic data, core samples and grain-size analysis. We quantitatively studied the sediment flux and catchment area based on mass balance calculation modeling. Following this, we acquired rare-earth element (REE) data and zircon U–Pb age data from the bedrocks of the continental blocks and the South China Sea Cenozoic basement and rivers in the NW-SCS area to restore the provenance area and evaluate the migration distance by inspecting the heavy mineral assemblages. According to the above studies, three phases of S2S dynamics were identified. 1) The initial rifting stage occurred during the Eocene, and active rifting in the South China Sea induced a major topographic change. A large amount of autogenic slump sediments and a smaller amount of paleo-Red River sediments were injected into the Beibu Gulf Basin (BBGB) and the Yinggehai-Song Hong Basin (YGHB). 2) The postrift stage occurred during the Oligocene. Regional uplift and tectonic inversion probably linked to the clockwise rotation of the Indochina Block, broke the connection between the Beibu Gulf Basin and the Red River catchments. The paleo-Qin River and the paleo-Lian (Nanliu) River brought a large amount of clastic material into the Beibu Gulf Basin from the Cathaysia Block. 3) The thermal subsidence stage occurred during the Miocene: the eastward topographic tilt was enhanced, and the drainage basin entered postrift stage. The development of the Paleo-Red River and its branches, the Lam River and the Ma River, brought distal sediment into the YGHB, while the rivers in the west Cathaysia Block transported sediment into the BBGB. Statistical analysis of the S2S system parameters suggests that the average terrain altitude played a dominant role in determining the S2S system volume during the Eocene, while the dominant role transferred to the sediment supply during the Oligocene and Miocene.
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 9, 2022 - 10:40:14 AM
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Chao Fu, Shengli Li, Shunli Li, Jianyong Xu. Spatial-temporal evolution of the source-to-sink system in the northwestern South China Sea from the Eocene to the Miocene. Global and Planetary Change, Elsevier, 2022, 214, pp.103851. ⟨10.1016/j.gloplacha.2022.103851⟩. ⟨insu-03684373⟩

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