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Title: Expedition 355 Preliminary Report: Arabian Sea Monsoon
The Indian (southwest) summer monsoon is one of the most intense climatic phenomena on Earth. Its long-term development has been linked to the growth of high topography in South and Central Asia. The Indian continental margin, adjoining the Arabian Sea, offers a unique opportunity to investigate tectonic–climatic interactions and the net impact of these processes on weathering and erosion of the western Himalaya. During International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 355, two sites (U1456 and U1457) were drilled in Laxmi Basin in the eastern Arabian Sea to document the coevolution of mountain building, weathering, erosion, and climate over a range of timescales. In addition, recovering basement from the eastern Arabian Sea provides constraints on the early rifting history of the western continental margin of India with special emphasis on continental breakup between India and the Seychelles and its relationship to the plume-related volcanism of the Deccan Plateau. Drilling and coring operations during Expedition 355 recovered sediment from Sites U1456 and U1457 in the Laxmi Basin, penetrating 1109.4 and 1108.6 m below seafloor (mbsf), respectively. Drilling reached sediment dated to 13.5–17.7 Ma (late early to early middle Miocene) at Site U1456, although with a large hiatus between the lowermost sediment and overlying deposits more » dated to <10.9 Ma. At Site U1457, a much longer hiatus occurs near the base of the cored section, spanning from 10.9 to ~62 Ma. At both sites, hiatuses span ~8.2–9.2 and ~3.6–5.6 Ma, with a possible condensed section spanning ~2.0–2.6 Ma, although the total duration for each hiatus is slightly different between the two sites. A major submarine fan draining the western Himalaya and Karakoram must have been supplying sediment to the eastern Arabian Sea since at least ~17 Ma. Sand mineral assemblages indicate that the Greater Himalayan Crystalline Sequence was fully exposed to the surface by this time. Most of the recovered sediment appears to be derived from the Indus River and includes minerals that are unique to the Indus Suture Zone, in particular glaucophane and hypersthene, most likely originating from the structural base of the Kohistan arc. Pliocene sandy intervals at Site U1456 were deposited in lower fan “sheet lobe” settings, with intervals of basin plain turbidites separated by hemipelagic muddy sections deposited during the Miocene. Site U1457 is more distal in facies, reflecting its more marginal setting. No major active lobe appears to have affected the Laxmi Basin since the Middle Pleistocene (~1.2 Ma). We succeeded in recovering sections spanning the 8 Ma climatic transition, when monsoon intensity is believed to have changed strongly, although the nature of this change awaits postcruise analysis. We also recovered sediment from a large mass transport deposit measuring ~330 and ~190 m thick at Sites U1456 and U1457, respectively. This section includes an upper sequence of slump-folded muddy and silty rocks, as well as underlying calcarenites and limestone breccias, together with smaller amounts of volcanic clasts, all of which are likely derived from the western Indian continental shelf. Identification of similar facies on the regional seismic lines in Laxmi Basin suggests that these deposits form parts of one of the world’s largest mass transport deposits. Coring of igneous basement was successful at Site U1457. Recovery of massive basalt and associated volcaniclastic sediment at this site should address the key questions related to rifting and volcanism associated with formation of Laxmi Basin. Geochemical analysis is required to understand the petrogenesis and thus the tectonic setting of volcanism that will reveal whether it is oceanic basalt or volcanic rock contaminated by underlying continental crust or continental flood basalt. However, the fact that the lavas are massive and have few vesicles implies water depths of eruption likely deeper than 2000 m. This precludes opening of the basin in the presence of a major mantle thermal anomaly, such as that associated with the Deccan Large Igneous Province. Other observations made at the two sites during Expedition 355 provide vital constraints on the rift history of this margin. Heat flow measurements at the two drill sites were calculated to be ~57 and ~60 mW/m2. Such heat flow values are compatible with those observed in average oceanic crust of 63–84 Ma age, as well as with the presence of highly extended continental crust. Postcruise analyses of the more than ~1722 m of core will provide further information about the nature of tectonic–climatic interactions in this global type area for such studies. « less
Authors:
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Award ID(s):
1326927
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10283792
Journal Name:
Preliminary report
Volume:
355
ISSN:
2372-9562
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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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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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
  5. 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