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Title: South China Sea Rifted Margin
The primary objectives of International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 367/368 to the northern South China Sea (SCS) margin were to (1) examine its history of continental breakup and (2) compare it with other nonvolcanic or magma-poor rifted margins with the broader goal of testing models for continental breakup. A secondary objective was to further our understanding of the paleoceanographic and environmental development of the SCS and southeast Asia during the Cenozoic. Four primary sites were selected for the overall program: one in the outer margin high (OMH) and three seaward of the OMH on distinct, margin-parallel basement ridges. These three ridges are informally labeled A, B, and C and are located in the continent–ocean transition (COT) zone ranging from the OMH to the interpreted steady-state oceanic crust (Ridge C) of the SCS. The main scientific objectives include the following: Determining the nature of the basement in crustal units across the COT of the SCS that are critical to constrain style of rifting, Constraining the time interval from initial crustal extension and plate rupture to the initial generation of igneous ocean crust, Constraining vertical crustal movements during breakup, and Examining the nature of igneous activity from rifting to seafloor spreading. more » In addition, the sediment cores from the drill sites targeting primarily tectonic and basement objectives will provide information on the Cenozoic regional environmental development of the Southeast Asia margin. Site U1499 on Ridge A and Site U1500 on Ridge B were drilled during Expedition 367. Expedition 368 was planned to drill at two primary sites (U1501 and U1503) at the OMH and Ridge C, respectively, but based on drilling results from Expedition 367, Expedition 368 chose to insert an alternate site on Ridge A (Site U1502). In addition, Expedition 368 added two more sites on the OMH (Sites U1504 and U1505). Expedition 367/368 completed operations at six of the seven sites (U1499–U1502, U1504, and U1505). Site U1503, however, was not completed beyond casing without coring to 990 m because of mechanical problems with the drilling equipment that prevented the expedition, after 25 May 2017, from operating with a drill string longer than 3400 m. New alternate Site U1504, proposed during Expedition 367, met this condition. Original Site U1505 also met the operational constraints of the 3400 m drill string (total) and was an alternate site for the already-drilled Site U1501. At Site U1499, we cored to 1081.8 m in 22.1 days with 52% recovery and then logged downhole data from 655 to 1020 m. In 31 days at Site U1500, we penetrated to 1529 m, cored a total of 1012.8 m with 37% recovery, and collected log data from 842 to 1133 m. At Site U1501, we cored to 697.1 m in 9.4 days with 78.5% recovery. We also drilled ahead for 433.5 m in Hole U1501D and then logged downhole data from 78.3 to 399.3 m. In 19.3 days at Site U1502, we penetrated 1679.0 m in Holes U1502A (758 m) and U1502B (921 m), set 723.7 m of casing and cored a total of 576.3 m with 53.5% recovery, and collected downhole log data from 785.3 to 875.3 m and seismic data through the 10¾ inch casing. At Site U1503, we penetrated 995.1 m and set 991.5 m of 10¾ inch casing, but no cores were taken because of a mechanical problem with the drawworks. At Site U1504, we took 40 rotary core barrel (RCB) cores over two holes. The cored interval between both holes was 277.3 m with 26.8% recovery. An 88.2 m interval was drilled in Hole U1504B. At Site U1505, we cored 668.0 m with 101.1% recovery. Logging data was collected from 80.1 to 341.2 m. Operations at this site covered 6.1 days. Except for Sites U1503 and U1505, all sites were drilled to acoustic basement. A total of 6.65 days were lost due to mechanical breakdown or waiting on spare supplies for repair of drilling equipment, but drilling options were severely limited from 25 May to the end of the expedition by the defective drawworks limiting deployment of drill string longer than 3400 m. At Site U1499, coring ~200 m into the interpreted acoustic basement sampled sedimentary rocks, possibly including early Miocene chalks underlain by Oligocene polymict breccias and poorly cemented gravels of unknown age comprising sandstone pebbles and cobbles. Preliminary structural and lithologic analysis suggests that the gravels might be early to late synrift sediment. At Site U1500, the main seismic reflector corresponds to the top of a basalt sequence at ~1379.1 m. We cored 149.90 m into this volcanic package and recovered 114.92 m (77%) of sparsely to moderately plagioclase-phyric basalt comprising numerous lava flows, including pillow lavas with glass, chilled margins, altered veins, hyaloclastites, and minor sediment. Preliminary geochemical analyses indicate that the basalt is tholeiitic. Sampling of the Pleistocene to lower Miocene sedimentary section at Sites U1499 and U1500 was not continuous for two reasons. First, there was extremely poor recovery in substantial intervals interpreted to be poorly lithified sands, possibly turbidites. Second, we chose to drill down without coring in some sections at Site U1500 to ensure sufficient time to achieve this site’s high-priority deep drilling objectives. The upper Miocene basin sequence, which consists of interbedded claystone, siltstone, and sandstone can be correlated between the two sites by seismic stratigraphic mapping and biostratigraphy. At Site U1501 on the OMH, coring ~45 m into the acoustic basement sampled prerift(?) deposits comprising sandstone to conglomerate of presumed Mesozoic age. These deposits are overlain by siliciclastic synrift sediments of Eocene to Oligocene age followed by primarily carbonaceous postrift sediments of early Miocene to Pleistocene age. Site U1502 on Ridge A was cased to 723.7 m. No coring was attempted shallower than 380 m to save operational time and because of low expectations for core recovery in the upper Plio–Pleistocene sequence. At this site, we recovered 180 m of hydrothermally altered brecciated basalts comprising sheet and pillow lavas below deep-marine sediments of Oligocene to late Miocene age. At Site U1503 on Ridge C, 991.5 m of casing was installed in preparation for the planned deep drilling to ~1800 m. No coring was performed due to mechanical failures, and the site was abandoned without further activity except for installation of a reentry cone. Coring at Site U1504 on the OMH, located ~45 km east of Site U1501, recovered mostly foliated, greenschist facies metamorphic rocks below late Eocene(?) carbonate rocks (partly reef debris) and early Miocene to Pleistocene sediments. At Site U1505, we cored to 480.15 m through Pleistocene to late Oligocene mainly carbonaceous ooze followed at depth by early Oligocene siliciclastic sediments. Efforts were made at every drill site to correlate the core with the seismic data and seismic stratigraphic unconformities interpreted in the Eocene to Plio–Pleistocene sedimentary sequence prior to drilling. The predrilling interpretation of ages of these unconformities was in general confirmed by drilling results, although some nontrivial corrections can be expected from detailed postexpedition work on integrating seismic stratigraphic interpretations with detailed bio- and lithostratigraphy. As a result of the limited length of drill string that could be deployed during the later part of Expedition 368, the secondary expedition objectives addressing the environmental history of the SCS and Southeast Asia received more focus than originally planned, allowing Site U1505 (alternate to Site U1501) to be included. Despite this change in focus, Expedition 367/368 provided solid evidence for a process of breakup that included vigorous synrift magmatism as opposed to the often-favored interpretation of the SCS margin as a magma-starved margin or a margin possibly overprinted at a much later stage by plume-related magmatism. In this broader perspective, Expedition 367/368 accomplished a fundamental objective of the two-expedition science program. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1326927
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10224490
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the International Ocean Discovery Program
Volume:
367/368
ISSN:
2377-3189
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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Constraining the time interval from initial crustal extension and plate rupture to the initial generation of igneous ocean crust, 3. Constraining vertical crustal movements during breakup, and 4. Examining the nature of igneous activity from rifting to seafloor spreading. In addition, the sediment cores from the drill sites targeting primarily tectonic and basement objectives will provide information on the Cenozoic regional environmental development of the Southeast Asia margin. Expedition 368 was planned to drill at two primary sites (U1501 and U1503) at the OMH and Ridge C, respectively. However, based on drilling results from Expedition 367, Expedition 368 chose to insert an alternate site on Ridge A (Site U1502). In total, the expedition completed operations at four sites (U1501, U1502, U1504, and U1505). 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Three sites were cored on the continental shelf (Sites U1521, U1522, and U1523). At Site U1521, we cored a 650 m thick sequence of interbedded diamictite, mudstone, and diatomite, penetrating the Ross Sea seismic Unconformity RSU4. The depositional reconstructions of past glacial and open-marine conditions at this site will provide unprecedented insight into environmental change on the Antarctic continental shelf during the early and middle Miocene. At Site U1522, we cored a discontinuous upper Miocene to Pleistocene sequence of glacial and glaciomarine strata from the outer shelf, with the primary objective to penetrate and date seismic Unconformity RSU3, which is interpreted to represent the first major continental shelf–wide expansion and coalescing of marine-based ice streams from both East and West Antarctica. At Site U1523, we cored a sediment drift located beneath the westerly flowing Antarctic Slope Current (ASC). Cores from this site will provide a record of the changing vigor of the ASC through time. Such a reconstruction will enable testing of the hypothesis that changes in the vigor of the ASC represent a key control on regulating heat flux onto the continental shelf, resulting in the ASC playing a fundamental role in ice sheet mass balance. We also cored two sites on the continental slope and rise. At Site U1524, we cored a Plio–Pleistocene sedimentary sequence on the continental rise on the levee of the Hillary Canyon, which is one of the largest conduits of Antarctic Bottom Water delivery from the Antarctic continental shelf into the abyssal ocean. Drilling at Site U1524 was intended to penetrate into middle Miocene and older strata but was initially interrupted by drifting sea ice that forced us to abandon coring in Hole U1524A at 399.5 m drilling depth below seafloor (DSF). We moved to a nearby alternate site on the continental slope (U1525) to core a single hole with a record complementary to the upper part of the section recovered at Site U1524. We returned to Site U1524 3 days later, after the sea ice cleared. We then cored Hole U1524C with the rotary core barrel with the intention of reaching the target depth of 1000 m DSF. However, we were forced to terminate Hole U1524C at 441.9 m DSF due to a mechanical failure with the vessel that resulted in termination of all drilling operations and a return to Lyttelton 16 days earlier than scheduled. The loss of 39% of our operational days significantly impacted our ability to achieve all Expedition 374 objectives as originally planned. In particular, we were not able to obtain the deeper time record of the middle Miocene on the continental rise or abyssal sequences that would have provided a continuous and contemporaneous archive to the high-quality (but discontinuous) record from Site U1521 on the continental shelf. The mechanical failure also meant we could not recover sediment cores from proposed Site RSCR-19A, which was targeted to obtain a high-fidelity, continuous record of upper Neogene and Quaternary pelagic/hemipelagic sedimentation. Despite our failure to recover a shelf-to-rise transect for the Miocene, a continental shelf-to-rise transect for the Pliocene to Pleistocene interval is possible through comparison of the high-quality records from Site U1522 with those from Site U1525 and legacy cores from the Antarctic Geological Drilling Project (ANDRILL).« less