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Deep-water sedimentary systems and their relationship with bottom currents at the intersection of Xisha Trough and Northwest Sub-Basin, South China Sea
Chen, H.; Xie, X.; Zhang, W.; Shu, Y.; Wang , D.; Vandorpe, T.; Van Rooij, D. (2016). Deep-water sedimentary systems and their relationship with bottom currents at the intersection of Xisha Trough and Northwest Sub-Basin, South China Sea. Mar. Geol. 378: 101-113.
In: Marine Geology. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0025-3227, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Deep-water sedimentation; Bottom current; Topographic obstacle; Numerical current simulation; Northern South China Sea

Authors  Top 
  • Chen, H., more
  • Xie, X.
  • Zhang, W.
  • Shu, Y.
  • Wang, D.
  • Vandorpe, T., more
  • Van Rooij, D., more

    Based upon 2D reflection seismic data and numerical modelling, this study confirms the presence of a complex deep-water sedimentary system on the present-day seafloor at the intersection of the Xisha Trough and the Northwest Sub-Basin (South China Sea) and investigates their relationship with bottom currents. The deep-water sedimentary system consists of submarine canyons, slides and slumps, wave-like successions, mounded drifts and two groups of marginal depressions (those with erosional features and those appearing as morphological sediment sinks). Three-dimensional process-based modelling is applied to investigate sediment dynamics induced by a combined effect of tidal currents and a quasi-steady geostrophic current (South China Sea Deep Water Circulation). Simulation results show that the South China Sea Deep Water Circulation at the southeastern flank of the seamount plateau could reach velocities of 15 cm/s during flood tides, enabling erosion and transport processes. In contrast, the rest of the plateau area is favoured for deposition, since current velocities in this region are persistently lower than 10 cm/s. The current velocities at the feet of the obstacles (where the morphological depressions are located) are strengthened and are several cm/s higher than that in adjacent flat areas (e.g. where the mounded drifts are located). The flow is constricted and accelerated after being deflected by the obstacles, resulting in contrasting higher sedimentation rates within the mounded sediments and lower rates at the morphological depressions. A comparison between the seismic stratigraphy and the simulated fluid dynamics enables a decoding of the pathway, identifying the current regime as well as unravelling the relationship between depositional processes and the deep-sea water circulation. This study provides new insights and exposes new challenges in understanding the dynamics of deep-sea sedimentation processes in South China Sea.

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