We document upper slope sedimentary process and strata on the passive margin of the north-western South China Sea (SCS) using multibeam bathymetry and high-resolution seismic data. The upper slope can be divided into two segments based on geomorphology, strata, and sediment supply. (1) The east segment is characterised by deep incised canyons and gullies, and slope failure. Submarine canyons with both U- and V-shaped morphology (13−28 km long × 2−4 km wide) are oriented NNE−SSW or NNW−SSE and are approximately perpendicular to the slope. Erosion is dominant, with escarpments, slumps, and several mass transport deposits (MTDs). Shelf-margin clinoforms show strongly upward vertical aggradation with time and are strongly aggradational in style. Since 5.5 Ma, the shelf break line migrated southwards and then retreated to its present position. The segment is classified as erosion-dominated due to insufficient sediment supply. (2) The west segment has a smooth surface, gentle gradient, and a strongly progradational style, with MTDs triggered by high sedimentation rates. Shelf-margin clinoforms display a combination of progradational and aggradational stacking patterns. The shelf break line migrated southwards with time. The segment is classified as deposition-dominated, resulting from plentiful sediment supply. Depositional models have been constructed for each segment: a constant shelf break model with insufficient sediment supply in the east, and a migration shelf break model with plenty sediment supply in the west. This case study contributes to the understanding of the upper slope sedimentary process and stratigraphic style under different sediment supply conditions.
Volume 129, 2020
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