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The continent-ocean transition on the northwestern South China Sea

AutorCameselle, Alejandra L. ; Ranero, César R. ; Franke, Dieter; Barckhausen, Udo
Fecha de publicaciónfeb-2017
EditorEuropean Association of Geoscientists and Engineers
CitaciónBasin Research 29(Suppl.1): 73-95 (2017)
ResumenRifted margins are created as a result of stretching and breakup of continental lithosphere that eventually leads to oceanic spreading and formation of a new oceanic basin. A cornerstone for understanding what processes control the final transition to seafloor spreading is the nature of the continent-ocean transition (COT). We reprocessed multichannel seismic profiles and use available gravity data to study the structure and variability of the COT along the Northwest subbasin (NWSB) of the South China Sea. We have interpreted the seismic images to discern continental from oceanic domains. The continental-crust domain is characterized by tilted fault blocks generally overlain by thick syn-rift sedimentary units, and underlain by fairly continuous Moho reflections typically at 8–10 s twtt. The thickness of the continental crust changes greatly across the basin, from ~20 to 25 km under the shelf and uppermost slope, to ~9–6 km under the lower slope. The oceanic-crust domain is characterized by a highly reflective top of basement, little faulting, no syntectonic strata and fairly constant thickness (over tens to hundreds of km) of typically 6 km, but ranging from 4 to 8 km. The COT is imaged as a ~5–10 km wide zone where oceanic-type features directly abut or lap on continental-type structures. The South China margin continental crust is cut by abundant normal faults. Seismic profiles show an along-strike variation in the tectonic structure of the continental margin. The NE-most lines display ~20–40 km wide segments of intense faulting under the slope and associated continental-crust thinning, giving way to a narrow COT and oceanic crust. Towards the SW, faulting and thinning of the continental crust occurs across a ~100–110 km wide segment with a narrow COT and abutting oceanic crust. We interpret this 3D structural variability and the narrow COT as a consequence of the abrupt termination of continental rifting tectonics by the NE to SW propagation of a spreading centre. We suggest that breakup occurred abruptly by spreading centre propagation rather than by thinning during continental rifting. We propose a kinematic evolution for the oceanic domain of the NWSB consisting of a southward spreading centre propagation followed by a first narrow ridge jump to the north, and then a younger larger jump to the SE, to abandon the NWSB and create the East subbasin of the South China Sea
Descripción23 pages, 13 figures
Versión del editorhttps://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bre.12137
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1111/bre.12137
issn: 0950-091X
e-issn: 1365-2117
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