Acta Oceanologica Sinica

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 35–43 | Cite as

Geochemical characteristics of Oligocene-Miocene sediments from the deepwater area of the northern South China Sea and their provenance implications

  • Shuhui Chen
  • Peijun Qiao
  • Houhe Zhang
  • Xiaojun Xie
  • Yuchi Cui
  • Lei Shao


Geochemical and detrital zircon U-Pb dating data for drilled sediments from the Baiyun deepwater area of the northern South China Sea demonstrate a change of sedimentary sources from the Oligocene to the Miocene. Zircon ages of the pre-rift Eocene sequences are dominated by Yanshanian ages with various peak values (110–115 Ma for U1435 and L21; 150 Ma for H1), indicating local sediment supply from the pre-existing Mesozoic magmatic belt. For the Oligocene sediments in the northern part of the basin, the rare earth elements show different distribution characteristics, indicating sediment supply from the paleo-Zhujiang River (Pearl River), as also confirmed by the multimodal zircon age spectra of the Lower Oligocene strata in Well X28. By contrast, a positive Eu anomaly characterizes sediments from the western and southern parts of the basin, indicating potential provenances from intermediate to basic volcanic rock materials. The Baiyun Movement at the end of the Oligocene contributed to a large-scale subsidence in the deepwater area and also a northward retreat of continental shelf break, leading to deepening depositional environment in the basin. As a result, all the detrital zircon ages of the Upper Oligocene strata from Wells X28, L13, and L21 share a similar distribution, implying the possible control of a common source like the Zhujiang River. During the Miocene, whereas sediments in the northern area were mainly sourced from the Zhujiang River Delta, and those in the southern deepwater area continued to be affected by basic volcanic activities, the Dongsha Uplift could have contributed as the main source to the eastern area.


geochemistry zircon U-Pb age provenance South China Sea Baiyun deepwater area 


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Society of Oceanography and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuhui Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peijun Qiao
    • 1
  • Houhe Zhang
    • 3
  • Xiaojun Xie
    • 3
  • Yuchi Cui
    • 1
  • Lei Shao
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Marine GeologyTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Shenzhen Branch of China National Offshore Oil CorporationGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.China National Offshore Oil Corporation Research InstituteBeijingChina

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