• Response of geomorphic and geological processes to insufficient and ample sediment supply along the upper continental slope in the north-western South China Sea

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    • Keywords


      Geomorphology; geological processes; continental slope; sediment supply; South China Sea

    • Abstract


      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.

    • Author Affiliations


      Hongjun Chen1 2 3 Wenhuan Zhan1 3 Shiguo Wu4

      1. CAS Key Laboratory of Marginal Sea Geology, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, CAS, Guangzhou 510 301, China.
      2. Key Laboratory of Marine Mineral Resources, Ministry of Land and Resources, Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey, Guangzhou 510 075, China.
      3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100 049, China.
      4. Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya 572 000, China.
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