Journal of Ocean University of China

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 791–798 | Cite as

Geophysical Signature of the Shallow Water Flow in the Deepwater Basin of the Northern South China Sea

  • Xiaohua Zhang
  • Yunbao SunEmail author
  • Shiguo Wu
  • Dongdong Dong


Shallow water flow (SWF), a disastrous geohazard in the continental margin, has threatened deepwater drilling operations. Under overpressure conditions, continual flow delivering unconsolidated sands upward in the shallow layer below the seafloor may cause large and long-lasting uncontrolled flows; these flows may lead to control problems and cause well damage and foundation failure. Eruptions from over-pressured sands may result in seafloor craters, mounds, and cracks. Detailed studies of 2D/3D seismic data from a slope basin of the South China Sea (SCS) indicated the potential presence of SWF. It is commonly characterized by lower elastic impedance, a higher Vp/Vs ratio, and a higher Poisson’s ratio than that for the surrounding sediments. Analysis of geological data indicated the SWF zone originated from a deepwater channel system with gas bearing over-pressured fluid flow and a high sedimentation rate. We proposed a fluid flow model for SWF that clearly identifies its stress and pressure changes. The rupture of previous SWF zones caused the fluid flow that occurred in the Baiyun Sag of the northern SCS.

Key words

shallow water flow pressure prediction geohazard deepwater hydrocarbons South China Sea 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41306037), the China Geological Survey Project (No. DD20160213), and the Strategic Research Center of Oil and Gas Resources Project (No. 2017YQZYPJ0138). We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful reviews.


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Ocean University of China and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaohua Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yunbao Sun
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Shiguo Wu
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Dongdong Dong
    • 7
  1. 1.College of Marine GeosciencesOcean University of ChinaQingaoChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Gas Hydrate, Ministry of Natural ResourcesQingdao Institute of Marine GeologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.Laboratory for Marine Mineral ResourcesQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  4. 4.Institute of Deep-Sea Science and EngineeringChinese Academy of SciencesSanyaChina
  5. 5.Hainan Key Laboratory of Marine Georesources and ProspectingSanyaChina
  6. 6.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  7. 7.Key Laboratory of Marine Hydrocarbon Resource and GeologyQingdao Institute of Marine GeologyQingdaoChina

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