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Title: Expedition 367/368 Scientific Prospectus: South China Sea Rifted Margin
International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expeditions 367 and 368 will address the mechanisms of lithosphere extension during continental breakup. State of the art deep reflection seismic data show that the northern South China Sea (SCS) margin offers excellent drilling opportunities that can address the process of plate rupture at a magma-poor rifted margin. The SCS margin shows similarities to the hyperextended Iberia-Newfoundland margins, possibly including exhumed and serpentinized mantle within the continent-ocean transition (COT). However, recent modeling studies suggest that mechanisms of plate weakening other than serpentinization of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle exist. Two competing models for plate rupture (in the absence of excessively hot asthenospheric mantle) have widely different predictions for (1) the crustal structure across the COT, (2) the time lag between breakup and formation of igneous ocean crust, (3) the rates of extension, and (4) the subsidence and thermal history. Proposed drilling will core through thick sedimentary sections and into the underlying basement to firmly discriminate between these models. We plan to occupy four sites across a 150-200 km wide zone of highly extended seaward-thinning crust with a well-imaged COT zone. Three sites will determine the nature of critical crustal entities within the COT and constrain postbreakup more » crustal subsidence. These three sites will also help constrain how soon after breakup igneous crust started to form. A fourth site on the continental margin landward of the COT will constrain the timing of rifting, rate of extension, and crustal subsidence. If serpentinized mantle is found within the COT, this will lend support to the notion that the Iberia-type margin is not unique, and hence that weakening of the lithosphere by introducing water into the mantle may be a common process during continental breakup. If serpentinite is not found, and alternatively, scientific drilling results for the first time are gained in support of an alternative model, this would be an equally important accomplishment. Constraints on SCS formation and stratigraphy, including industry drilling, Ocean Drilling Program Leg 184 and IODP Expedition 349 drilling, the young (Paleogene) rifting of the margin, and absence of excessively thick postrift sediment allow us to effectively address these key topics by drilling within a well-constrained setting. An initial spreading rate of ~2 cm/y half-rate reduces the potential complexity of magma-starved, slow-spreading crust forming after breakup. Drilling, coring, and logging to address these SCS rifted margin science objectives will be undertaken during Expeditions 367 and 368, which will be implemented as a single science program. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1326927
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10230619
Journal Name:
Scientific prospectus
Volume:
367/368
ISSN:
2332-1385
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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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. 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. 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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
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