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AAPG Bulletin, Preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 1 February 2024.

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Structural segmentation in the Qiongdongnan Basin, South China Sea: insights from analog models and implications for hydrocarbon exploration

Gengxiong Yang1 , Hongwei Yin1 , Jun Gan2 , Wei Wang1 , Jitian Zhu2 , Dong Jia1 , Xiaofeng Xiong2 , and Wenqiao Xu1

1 School of Earth Science and Engineering, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China
2 Zhanjiang Branch of CNOOC Ltd., Zhanjiang 524057, China

Ahead of Print Abstract

The Qiongdongnan Basin at the northern margin of the South China Sea shows distinct lateral variations in trends, deformational styles, and structural complexities from the western to eastern zones. It is widely accepted that the western zone undergoes orthogonal stretching, whereas the eastern zone undergoes oblique stretching under the control of the pre-existing structures with changed orientation. In addition, the weak lower crust may also affect the structural segmentation of the Qiongdongnan Basin. This study considers factors related to crustal strength, such as brittle-to-viscous thickness ratios and extensional velocities to explore the structural segmentation between the western and eastern zones using physical analog modeling. The results show that the control of pre-existing velocity discontinuity (VD) in the segmentation of the overlying structure is strongly associated with these two factors. In the case of a thinner lower crust or fast extension, deformation was concentrated along the VD, showing an apparent segmentation between the orthogonal and oblique zones. Conversely, when there was a thicker weak lower crust or slow velocity, the rift basin discrete development due to the control of pre-existing VD weakened, and the segmentation was indistinct. A model with a thinner lower crust and faster stretching velocity successfully accounted for the observed segmentation characteristics of the Qiongdongnan Basin. Based on the experimental results, we explain the differential tectonic evolution between the eastern and western zones and their impact on the structurally formed reservoirs in the Qiondongnan Basin.

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Please cite this AAPG Bulletin Ahead of Print article as:

Gengxiong Yang , Hongwei Yin , Jun Gan , Wei Wang , Jitian Zhu , Dong Jia , Xiaofeng Xiong , Wenqiao Xu: Structural segmentation in the Qiongdongnan Basin, South China Sea: insights from analog models and implications for hydrocarbon exploration, (in press; preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 01 February 2024: AAPG Bulletin, DOI:10.1306/01162422069.