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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 88, No. 1 (2004), P. 71-97.

Copyright copy2004. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Seismic reflection imaging of a major strike-slip fault zone in a rift system: Paleogene structure and evolution of the Tan-Lu fault system, Liaodong Bay, Bohai, offshore China

Li-Yuan Hsiao,1 Stephan A. Graham,2 Nat Tilander3

1Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-2115; current address: ChevronTexaco Overseas Petroleum, 4800 Fournace, Bellaire, Texas 77401; [email protected]
2Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-2115; [email protected]
3ChevronTexaco Exploration and Production Technology Company, 6001 Bollinger Canyon Rd., San Ramon, California 94583; [email protected]


Li-Yuan Hsiao received geology degrees from the National Taiwan University (B.S. [1994] and M.S. [1997]) and his Ph.D. from Stanford University (2003). Partially presented as this paper, his dissertation focused on sequence stratigraphy, structure, and tectonics of the Bohai, offshore China. His subjects of interest include stratigraphy, structural geology, sedimentology, and basin analysis. He is currently an earth scientist in the Nigeria deep-water exploration team of ChevronTexaco in Houston, Texas.

Stephan A. Graham is a professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, and also holds courtesy appointments in the Departments of Geophysics and Petroleum Engineering. He teaches courses in sedimentary geology, petroleum geology, seismic interpretation, sedimentary basin analysis, and petroleum reservoir characterization. His current research projects include studies of sedimentary basins in eastern Asia, South America, and the western United States, as well as studies of the sedimentology and stratigraphic architecture of deep-water deposits.

Nat Tilander is a geophysical consultant with ChevronTexaco Exploration and Production Technology in San Ramon, California. He joined Chevron in 1988 and has worked in exploration, research, and technology applications for most of his career. Most recently, he was the team leader of Chevron's North Bohai project and is currently working in the Eurasia new ventures group. Nat received his B.A. degree in mathematics from Princeton University and his M.A. degree in geophysics from Indiana University.


The writers are indebted to Peter Hennings, Jory Pacht, Arthur Sylvester, and an anonymous reviewer for critical review of the manuscript. We acknowledge Atilla Aydin, Edmund Chang, Tim Cope, Todd Harding, Chuck Kluth, Tung-Yi Lee, Hongde Liang, Maoshan Wang, and Yongjun Yue for fruitful discussions. Great thanks are due to our ChevronTexaco colleagues Dennis Astilla, Kuan Hsu, Yu Jin, and Lori Zhang. This project was supported by the Stanford–China Industrial Affiliates Program and Texaco Scholarship in Sedimentary Geology, and data publication was permitted by ChevronTexaco, Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation, and Petronas.


The Tan-Lu fault system in the Liaodong Bay, Bohai, offshore China, affords an exceptional opportunity to document the structural features of a major strike-slip fault using two- and three-dimensional seismic reflection data, as well as evolution of a strike-slip fault developed coeval with a rift system. The fault zone displays a relatively straight, throughgoing trace longitudinally bisecting the rift valley. It consists of positive and negative flower structures and en echelon folds in the south bay, and three parallel, flower-structure systems northward. The middle fault bifurcates northward into two semiparallel vertical fault strands. To the north, the west strand bends clockwise and merges with the east strand. The stepping pattern and orientation of en echelon structures indicate right-lateral sense and about N10–35degE azimuth of slip. The fault apparently accrued about 30–40 km (20–25 mi) of post-early Eocene slip based on the current distribution of deformation zones and depocenters. Tan-Lu fault segments with clockwise and counterclockwise orientation relative to the regional slip direction are characterized by divergent and convergent structures (i.e., restraining and releasing bends), respectively. Waning of rifting eliminated the cause of a major restraining bend, putting an end to development of associated convergent structures in the south bay area. Near the central-north bay, deformation occurred along major normal faults related to the basin rifting. Although a prominent feature reflecting regional strain partitioning, the Tan-Lu fault apparently was not a major factor in the Paleogene opening of the Liaodong Bay basin and the larger North China rift basin.

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