Geochemical evidence for initiation of the modern Mekong delta in the southwestern South China Sea after 8 Ma Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Sedimentary records in the southwestern South China Sea reflect the evolving erosion and drainage systems that have operated in Southeast Asia during the Neogene. Analyses of the chemistry and clay mineral composition of sediments from International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Site U1433 allow us to examine these processes over the last 17 Ma. Sediment older than 8 Ma was deposited relatively slowly. Sr and Nd isotopes indicate a variable provenance with sequences of less and more altered material accompanied by strong changes in the proportion of smectite. Sediment flux was probably from Indochina, as well as from a more primitive volcanic source, most likely the Palawan ophiolite and/or Luzon. Sediments younger than 8 Ma show a more stable Sr and Nd isotope character, indicating sources close to those seen in the modern Mekong River, although with some influx from smaller rivers draining the Indochina margin especially from 4–8 Ma. Our data are consistent with seismic estimates for an onset to the Mekong in its present location after 8 Ma, following an avulsion from the Gulf of Thailand.

publication date

  • February 2017