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Contourite processes associated with the overflow of Pacific Deep Water within the Luzon Trough: Conceptual and regional implications

Yin, Shaoru and Javier Hernández-Molina, F. and Hobbs, Richard and Gao, Jinyao and Ding, Weifeng and Yang, Chunguo and Lin, Lin and Zhang, Huodai and Wu, Ziyin and Li, Jiabiao (2021) 'Contourite processes associated with the overflow of Pacific Deep Water within the Luzon Trough: Conceptual and regional implications.', Deep sea research part I: oceanographic research papers., 170 . p. 103459.


Overflows through oceanic gateways govern the exchange of water masses in the world's ocean basins. These exchanges also involve energy, salinity, nutrients, and carbon. As such, the physical features that control overflow can exert a strong influence on regional and global climate. Here, we present the first description of sedimentary processes generated by the overflow of Pacific Deep Water (OPDW). This mass flows southward at approximately 2000–3450 m water depth within the Luzon Trough (gateway) from the Pacific Ocean into the South China Sea. OPDW can be divided into: a) a lower, denser layer (including an associated weak counter-current), which has generated a large contourite depositional system (CDS-1) that includes large erosional (channel and moat), depositional (mounded and plastered drift), and mixed (terrace) contourite features along the trough bottom and walls, and b) an upper mixing layer, which has not generated any significant depositional or erosional contourite features. Where OPDW does not reach the seafloor, it is underlain by bottom water that circulates more sluggishly but has generated a second contourite depositional system (CDS-2) made of a large sheet-like drift. The OPDW flow has generally enhanced since the middle to late Miocene, except in the shallower northernmost corridor. In the deeper main trough, reductions in width and depth of the gateway by Taiwan orogenic events have likely accelerated the overflow. The latest significant enhancening may promote widespread development of contourite depositional systems along the South China Sea's lower continental slope and adjacent deeper areas. This work highlights the importance of gateway-confined overflows in controlling the morphology and sedimentary evolution of adjacent deep marine sedimentary systems. A clear understanding of overflow processes and their products is essential for decoding tectonic control in oceanographic or paleoceanographic processes.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
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Publisher statement:© 2021 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:14 December 2020
Date deposited:13 January 2021
Date of first online publication:08 January 2021
Date first made open access:08 January 2022

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