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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). Site U1503, however, was not completed beyond casing to 990 m because of mechanical problems with the drilling equipment that limited the expedition from 25 May 2017 to the end of the expedition to operate with a drill string not longer than 3400 m. New alternate Site U1504 proposed during Expedition 367 met this condition. 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 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, 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, setting 991.5 m of 10¾ inch casing, but no cores were taken. 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 Site U1505, we drilled to acoustic basement, which prior to the expedition, except for Site U1501, had been interpreted to be crystalline basement. A total of 6.65 days were lost due to mechanical breakdown or waiting on spare supplies for repair of drilling equipment. At Site U1501 on the OMH, coring ~45 m into the acoustic basement sampled highly lithified sandstone to conglomerate of presumed Mesozoic age overlain by siliciclastic Eocene pre- to synrift sediments of Oligocene age and topped by primarily carbonaceous postrift sediments of early Miocene to Pleistocene age. Site U1502 on Ridge A was cased to 723.7 m. 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. Efforts were made at every drill site to correlate the core with the seismic data and seismic stratigraphic unconformities interpreted within 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. As a result of the constraints on the 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 planned because these sites are located in shallower water depths and required less penetration depth. This forced change in emphasis, however, was without fatal consequences for the primary tectonic objectives. The two expeditions together 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.« less
  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. This addendum to the Scientific Prospectus of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) South China Sea Rifted Margin Expeditions 367 and 368 (Sun et al., 2016) addresses a change of port-of-call and a two-day extension to Expedition 368 and modifications to some of the primary and alternate sites for both expeditions. As of the date of publication of this addendum, Expedition 368 is scheduled to start in Hong Kong on 9 April 2017 and end in Shanghai on 11 June. The two-day extension allows for the additional transit to Shanghai at the end of the expedition without taking time awaymore »from scientific drilling operations.« 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