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Type: Journal article
Title: Late Oligocene rapid transformations in the South China Sea
Author: Li, Q.
Jian, Z.
Su, X.
Citation: Marine Micropaleontology, 2005; 54(1-2):5-25
Publisher: Elsevier Science BV
Issue Date: 2005
ISSN: 0377-8398
Abstract: Lithobiostratigraphic data indicate that the double reflectors on the seismic profile through Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 1148 represent two unconformities that coincide, respectively, with the lower/upper Oligocene boundary at ∼488 mcd, and Oligocene-Miocene boundary at 460 mcd. Two other unconformities, at ∼478 and 472 mcd, respectively, were also identified within the upper Oligocene section. Together they erased a sediment record of about 3 Ma from this locality in a period of very active seafloor spreading. The existence of 32.8 Ma marine sediment at the terminated depth (850 mcd) indicates that the initial breakup of the South China Sea (SCS) was probably during 34-33 Ma, close to the Eocene-Oligocene boundary. High sedimentation rates of 60-115 m/my from the much expanded, >350 m lower Oligocene section resulted from rifting and rapid subsidence between 33 and 29 Ma. The mid-Oligocene unconformity at ∼28.5 Ma, which also occurred in many parts of the Indo-West Pacific region, was probably related to a significant uplift of the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau to the west and the initial collision between Indonesia and Australia in the south. A narrowed Indonesian seaway may have accounted for the late Oligocene warming and chalk deposition in the northern South China Sea including the Site 1148 locality. The unconformities and slumps near the Oligocene-Miocene boundary indicate a very unstable tectonic regime, probably corresponding to changes in the rotation of different land blocks and the seafloor spreading ridge from nearly E-W to NE-SW, as recognized earlier at magnetic Anomaly 7. This 25 Ma event also saw the first New Guinea terrane docking at the northern Australian craton. The low sedimentation rate of ∼15 m/my in the early to middle Miocene may correspond to another period of rapid seafloor spreading and rapid widespread subsidence that effectively caused sediment source areas to retreat with a rapidly rising sea level. The isostatic nature of these late Oligocene unconformities and slumps with several major collision-uplift events indicate that the rapid changes in the early evolutionary history of the South China Sea were mainly responding to regional tectonic reconfiguration including the uplift-driven southeast extrusion of the Indochina subcontinent. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.1016/j.marmicro.2004.09.008
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