Journal of Ocean University of China

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1302–1316 | Cite as

Stratigraphic Sequence and Sedimentary Systems in the Middle-Southern Continental Slope of the East China Sea from Seismic Reflection Data: Exploration Prospects of Gas Hydrate

  • Deyong LiEmail author
  • Hongyan Chen
  • Shujuan Xu
  • Junhui Xing
  • Honggang Cheng
  • Jinkai Wang


Many evidences for gas hydrate bearing sediments had been found in the continental slope of the East China Sea, such as bottom simulating reflections (BSRs), undersea gas springs, pyrite associated with methane leakage, mud diapirs/mud volcanos, bottom-water methane anomalies and so on. In this study, six key stratigraphic interfaces including T0 (seafloor), T1 (LGM, 23 kyr B.P.), T2 (2.58 Myr), T3 (5.33 Myr), T4 (11.02 Myr) and T5 (16.12 Myr) were identified, and then five third-order sequences of SQIII1 to SQIII5 were divided. However, T5 in southern continental slope is not found, which shows that the middle-northern Okinawa Trough had begun to rift in the early Miocene, earlier than the southern segment. Four system tracts including lowstand systems tract (LST), transgressive systems tract (TST), highstand systems tract (HST) and falling stage systems tract (FSST) are further divided. The marine erosion interface of 11.02 Myr and regressive unconformity interface of 23 kyr B.P. indicate two large-scale sea level drop events in the research area. Seven typical seismic facies identified in the continental slope are continental shelf-edge deltas, littoral fluvial-delta plains, incised channels or submarine canyons, slope fans, submarine fans or coastal sandbars, littoral-neritic finegrained sediments, mud volcanos and some other geological bodies respectively. The minimum water depth for hydrate occurrence in the Okinawa Trough is 630 m, and the thickness of gas hydrate stability zone in continental slope is between 0 and 590 m. The calculated bottom boundary of hydrate stability zone is slightly deeper than BSRs on the seismic sections. The re-depositional turbidite sand bodies, such as canyon channels, slope fans and submarine fans developed in Quaternary strata, are the predominant hydrate reservoirs. According to developing process, the dynamic accumulation of hydrate systems can be divided into three evolutionary stages including canyon erosion and hydrate stability zone migration stage, sediments destabilizing and methane leakage stage, and channel filling and hydrate re-occurrence stage.

Key words

sequence stratigraphic architecture systems tract seismic facies depositional system submarine canyon gas hydrate stability zone hydrate dynamic accumulation continental slope of the East China Sea 


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This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41806073, 41530963), the Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province (No. ZR 2017BD014), the Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Depositional Mineralization & Sedimentary Minerals, Shandong University of Science and Technology (No. DMSM 2017042), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Nos. 201964016, 201851023). We would like to thank Prof. S. Z. Li for their scientific guidance and help. We also thank two reviewers for their recommendations.


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Copyright information

© Ocean University of China, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deyong Li
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Hongyan Chen
    • 1
  • Shujuan Xu
    • 4
  • Junhui Xing
    • 1
    • 3
  • Honggang Cheng
    • 4
  • Jinkai Wang
    • 5
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Submarine Geosciences and Prospecting Techniques, MOE, College of Marine GeosciencesOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Depositional Mineralization & Sedimentary MineralsShandong University of Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.Evaluation and Detection Technology Laboratory for Marine Mineral ResourcesQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  4. 4.Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration & DevelopmentLangfangChina
  5. 5.College of Earth Science and EngineeringShandong University of Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina

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