Morphology, structures and seismic characters of the Chimei Canyon-Fan system offshore eastern Taiwan

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Yu-Huan Hsieh and Char-Shine Liu, IONTU Institute of Oceanography National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
The Chimei submarine canyon located offshore east Taiwan shows a very distinct morphology, it has a wide (9 km in average) and very smooth bottom, a submarine fan was formed at its foot but the northern part of the submarine fan has been washed away. This canyon starts from the Hsiukuluan River estuary, runs eastward across the eastern flank of the Luzon arc, and merges into the Hualien Canyon near the western end of the Ryukyu Trench off NE Taiwan. The Chimei canyon can be divided into two parts: the upper section is a U-shaped canyon with broad and flat bottom and high walls; the lower section meanders across a deep sea fan in the Huatung basin. In this study, we use multichannel seismic reflection profile data together with high resolution bathymetry data to study the topography, basement structures and seismic sequences along the canyon path and in the distal fan.

The U-shaped upper Chimei canyon seems to be carved not only by submarine erosion but also by structural uplift of both side-walls. The canyon walls are up to 950 m above the canyon floor, strata truncations along both sides of the canyon walls and many slumps are observed. The upper Chimei canyon was developed along basement lows of the highly deformed Luzon arc, and runs across a series of N-S trending thrusts. Acoustic basement and lower strata are deformed and folded, and young sediments cover the canyon floor smoothly. We find many thrusts run across the upper Chimei canyon, but now the canyon bottom is smooth. The concave thalweg profile seems to reach the equilibrium between erosion and deposition. An east-vergent thrust fault lies at the foot of the eastern flank of the Luzon arc which separates the upper section from the lower section of the Chimei Canyon. The lower section of the Chimei canyon flows over a submarine fan where eight seismic sequences are recognized. The two lower sequences show continuous, parallel to sub-parallel sheet-drape seismic facies which fill the basement low. They are interpreted to be old deep sea sediment. The six upper sequences show chaotic and mounded seismic facies, and also transparent and continuous parallel seismic strata. We interpret those are characters of submarine fan. Some large slumps occurred at northern half of the submarine fan. The northern half of the submarine fan has been eroded away already by canyon and slumps.