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Title: Expedition 368X Preliminary Report: South China Sea Rifted Margin
International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 368X is the third of three cruises that form the South China Sea Rifted Margin program. Expeditions 367, 368, and 368X share the common key objectives of testing scientific hypotheses of breakup of the northern South China Sea (SCS) margin and comparing its rifting style and history to other nonvolcanic or magma-poor rifted margins. 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 informally labeled Ridges A, B, and C from north to south. The ridges 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 1. Determining the nature of the basement in crustal units across the COT of the SCS that are critical to constrain style of rifting, 2. 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, sediment cores from the drill sites targeting primarily tectonic and basement more » objectives will provide information on the Cenozoic regional environmental development of the Southeast Asia margin. Expedition 368X was planned to reoccupy a site started during Expedition 368. Because of repeated breakdowns of the low clutch diaphragm in the drawworks, Hole U1503A was abandoned after installing casing to 991.5 m. Despite this setback to Expedition 368 and the South China Sea Rifted Margin program, Hole U1503A was completed during Expedition 368X. The overarching scientific goal of IODP Expeditions 367 and 368 was to unveil the mechanisms of continental breakup at the northern SCS margin from rifting through steady-state spreading. A key operational objective of Site U1503 was to sample the lowermost ~300 m of sediments on top of basement to constrain the age and subsidence history of the crust at this location, the timing of normal faulting, and the environment of the early half-graben fill. A second important goal was to sample at least 100 m of the igneous basement. Deep representative sampling of the igneous material at this site will provide an important reference frame for the modeling of breakup and early ocean spreading. In Hole U1503A, the sediment sequence was cored with the rotary core barrel (RCB) system from 995.1 to 1597.84 m (602.74 m penetration; 128.01 m recovered; 21%) and then the underlying basement was continuously cored from 1597.84 to 1710.1 m (112.26 m penetration; 47.91 m recovered; 43%). Although logging deeper than 991.5 m (bottom of casing) was not possible because of unstable hole conditions, Hole U1503A was logged with the Vertical Seismic Imager in the cased portion of the hole. No days were lost to waiting on weather, and the only mechanical downtime was a 1.5 h period when an electrical malfunction caused the top drive to shut down for repairs. Expedition 368X successfully completed the operational objectives in Hole U1503A that were abandoned during Expedition 368. In the SCS margin science program, material recovered during Expedition 368X will contribute toward meeting the four specific objectives of Expeditions 367 and 368. Postexpedition research on the sediments and basalt recovered from Hole U1503A will allow for determination of emplacement age and geochemical analyses of rock composition and assessment of melting processes and age of crystallization. The combination of such analyses will contribute to geochemical or thermomechanical modeling that will constrain mantle origin and melting processes leading to the formation of these basalts. « less
Authors:
Award ID(s):
1326927
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10281909
Journal Name:
Preliminary report
Volume:
368X
ISSN:
2372-9562
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 368 is the second of two consecutive cruises that form the South China Sea Rifted Margin program. Expeditions 367 and 368 share the common key objectives of testing scientific hypotheses of breakup of the northern South China Sea (SCS) margin and comparing its rifting style and history to other nonvolcanic or magma-poor rifted margins. 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. They are located withinmore »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 1. Determining the nature of the basement within crustal units across the COT of the SCS that are critical to constrain style of rifting, 2. 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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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. Coring was not performed within the upper 380 m (~Pliocene–Pleistocene) at Site U1502. At Site U1503 on Ridge C, 991.5 m of casing was installed in preparation for the planned deep drilling to ~1800 m, but no coring was performed due to mechanical failures, and the site was abandoned without further activity. Coring at Site U1504 on the OMH ~45 km east of Site U1501 recovered metamorphic schist to gneiss (greenschist facies) 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 to late Eocene siliciclastic sediments. 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  2. 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. Thesemore »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. 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
  3. International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 367 is the first of two consecutive cruises that form the South China Sea Rifted Margin program. Expeditions 367 and 368 share the common key objectives of testing scientific hypotheses of breakup of the northern South China Sea (SCS) margin and comparing its rifting style and history to other nonvolcanic or magma-poor rifted margins. 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 ridges are informally labeled A, B, and C within the continent–ocean transition (COT)more »zone going from the OMH to the steady-state oceanic crust of the SCS. The main scientific objectives include 1. Determining the nature of the basement within critical crustal units across the COT of the SCS that are critical to constrain style of rifting, 2. 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, sediment cores from the drill sites will provide information on the Cenozoic regional tectonic and environmental development of the Southeast Asia margin. Expedition 367 successfully completed operations at two of the four primary sites (Site U1499 on Ridge A and Site U1500 on Ridge B). 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 each site we drilled to reach the depth of the main seismic reflector (acoustic basement), which prior to the expedition had been interpreted to be crystalline basement. Our objective was to determine which lithospheric layer constitutes the basement of the COT and whether there was middle or lower continental crust or subcontinental lithospheric mantle exhumed in the COT before the final lithospheric breakup. At Site U1499, coring ~200 m into the acoustic basement sampled sedimentary rocks, including early Miocene chalks underlain by pre-Miocene polymict breccias and poorly cemented gravels composed of sandstone pebbles and cobbles. Preliminary structural and lithologic analysis suggested that the gravels might be early synrift to prerift 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, recovering 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 show that the basalt is tholeiitic. We speculate that the basalt might belong to the very early stage of magmatism prior to steady-state seafloor spreading (known as an “embryonic ocean” regime). 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 within substantial intervals interpreted to be poorly lithified sands. 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 objectives. Nevertheless, the upper Miocene basin sequence, consisting of interbedded claystone, siltstone, and sandstone, is continuous on seismic reflection profiles, and can be correlated between the two sites using both seismic reflectors and biostratigraphy. Together with results from other holes previously drilled in the SCS, these samples will help to constrain changes in paleoceanographic conditions during the Miocene in this part of the SCS basin.« less
  4. 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 (inmore »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 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
  5. During International Ocean Discovery Program Expeditions 367/368/368X, Hole U1501D was cored on the continental shelf (2846 meters below sea level) in the northern South China Sea (SCS). In Hole U1501D, sediments were recovered from 433.5 to 644.3 meters below seafloor (mbsf) and the acoustic basement was penetrated at 598.91 mbsf. The acoustic basement is a stratigraphic boundary at which late Eocene Cenozoic sediments likely unconformably overlay heterolithic Mesozoic sandstones that are intercalated with rare siltstones and subordinate conglomerate with pebble- and cobble-sized igneous clasts of proximal provenance. Here, we present major and trace elements and Sr-Nd-Pb-Hf isotope data of amore »fine-grained granite pebble, a medium-grained granite cobble, and a porphyritic volcanic pebble. The data show that these clasts are relics of the Mesozoic subduction-related magmatism that was active along the southeast Asian margin prior to the Cenozoic rifting. The Pb isotope composition of the clasts partially overlaps with the enriched Cenozoic mid-ocean-ridge basalt type and intraplate basalts of the SCS. However, the clasts are distinct from the Cenozoic basalt volcanism in Sr-Nd-Hf isotope space. Thus, Sr-Nd-Hf isotope systematics of the Cenozoic basalts might be useful in detecting traces of crustal contamination in the earliest rift basalts of the SCS that may have erupted through the Mesozoic continental basement.« less