Seismic Characteristics and Evolution of Intrusion in Qiongdongnan Basin: Implications for the Rifting of South China Sea

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Yanghui Zhao, Jianye Ren, Linlong Yang and Chao Huang, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China
The South China Sea (SCS) formed by magma-poor rifting in the Paleogene. The Qiongdongnan basin (QDNB) located at the north margin was thought to completely lack magma activities. Due to the limited amount of deepwater drills, magmas in deepwater area had been ignored in petroleum exploration, and thus our knowledge of basin analysis is far from complete.

Based on a comprehensive study on seismic profiles and P wave velocity data, 12 intrusion-related seismic reflection anomalies in QDNB have been recognized. In the southwest of QDNB, gas chimneys and gas clouds have been found with a low velocity (<3.4 km/s). In the center area, the intensively deformed strata passing towards the diapir flanks suggest the existence of magma diapirs. However, the velocity within diapirs is neither too high nor too low (3.7–4.6 km/s), and there has been no obvious magnetic anomaly or gravity anomaly be found. Previous researches prove that the temperatures of the crustal melt layers at the time that the basalt solidifies are high (900–950 °C) so that the process can produce magmas representing large degrees of partial fusion of the crust. To judge from the evidence, in the center area these could be mixed magmas. Further east, the diapirs possess typical features of basaltic magma intrusions with a high seismic velocity (>6 km/s), a positive magnetic anomaly and a high gravity anomaly. In addition, according to different dips of marginal facies, three phases of diapirism can be identified (32 Ma, 15.5 Ma and 10.5 Ma). Along a narrow area with hyper-extended crust, those intrusions document the opening of SCS at 32 Ma and the volcanic activities afterwards.

The results are corresponding to the fact that all of the intrusions in QDNB occurred during the extreme crustal thinning process and after the cessation of seafloor spreading, and thus the intrusion evolved with time would have major implications for post-rift emplacement.