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《Acta Geological Sinica》 1982-03
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TECTONIC EVOLUTION OF ZHUJIANGKOU (PEARL-RIVERMOUTH) BASIN AND ORIGIN OF SOUTH CHINA SEA

Feng Zhiqiang Zheng Weijun (South China Sea Marine Geological Survey Headquarter, Ministry of Geology)  
The Zhujiangkou Basin Was discovered and delineated during 1975—1976 when the integrated marine geological and geophysical surveys were undertaken in the northern part of South China Sea. In October 1977, the first test well was drilled, and commercial oil flow was obtained there for the first time in August 1979. A great number of data available have proved that the Zhujiangkou Basin is very rich in potential oil and gas, and is expected to be an important offshore base of exploration and exploitation for hydrocarbons. Furthermore, the particular base has attracted wide attention both at home and from abroad because of its favourable geographical position.The Zhujiangkou Basin which has a total area of about 150,000 km~2, extends in parallel to the shoreline of Guangdong Province in the NE 70° direction. It has undergone three stages in the history of its development: a) the initial stage (T_3—E_2), which is characterized by the presence of mostly continental clastic rocks, pyroclastics and volcanics originating from downfaulting, about 2000 m thick; b) the development stage (E_3-N_1~1), which is dominated by the clastic sediments of marine-continental transitional facies and is a stage of transformation from downfaulting to downwarping. The thickness of its sediments is of 2,000—3,500m. This is a major period of oil generation; c) the mature stage (N_1~2-N_2), which is charaterized predominently by massive depressiontype shallow-sea sediments with the thickness of 2,000—4,000 m. The basement is mainly composed of Palaeozoic metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, and Mesozoic granites.The early Himalayan Movement which took place during middle and late Eocene gave rise to a remarkable structural difference between the land and sea domains of Guangdong Province, and played a decisive role in the development of the Zhujiangkou Basin. The phenomenon of its splitting up into blocks latitudinally and into belts meri- dionally, expressed in the internal structure of the Zhujiangkou Basin, has shaped its basic tectonic framework since Oligocene. The E-W arrangement of blocks was attributed to the different nature of the basements, whereas the N-S arrangement of belts was associated with the formation of the passive continental margin in South China.As a southern corner of China Plate, South China Sea had evolved from the Pre-Palaeozoic South China massif and Palaeozoic geosynclinal fold zone. Since Mesozoic, its western and northern parts have been restricted by the development of Tethys tectonics, while the eastern part, greatly influenced by the subduction of the Pacific plate to form a NE-trending structure which has affected the whole eastern part of China and the South China Sea, laying down a foundation for the basin and governing its subsequent development. During mid-Oligoeene through to the early Miocene, the dismembering of South China Sea continental crust, the spreading process in an approximately N-S direction and the dopression after early Miocene were the major factors in the formation of the modern structural aspect of the basin. The three stages of the development of the basin basically correspond to the three operation manners of the plate tectonics of South China Sea.The Zhujiangkou Basin is apparently different from the "intraplate basins" on land in the eastern part of China in its structural features and sedimentary types. It is a large oil-and-gas-bearing basin formed at the passive continental margin of backarc in South China and was mainly formed during Cenozoic. It is a new type of oiland-gas-bearing basin in China.
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