Tectonic and Monsoonal Controls on Coral Atolls in the South China Sea

  1. G. F. Camoin2 and
  2. P. J. Davies3
  1. Wang Guozhong

Published Online: 27 MAY 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304879.ch12

Reefs and Carbonate Platforms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

Reefs and Carbonate Platforms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

How to Cite

Guozhong, W. (1998) Tectonic and Monsoonal Controls on Coral Atolls in the South China Sea, in Reefs and Carbonate Platforms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans (eds G. F. Camoin and P. J. Davies), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304879.ch12

Editor Information

  1. 2

    CEREGE, Aix-en-Provence, France

  2. 3

    University of Sydney, Australia

Author Information

  1. Laboratory of Marine Geology, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 27 MAY 2009
  2. Published Print: 23 MAR 1998

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632047789

Online ISBN: 9781444304879

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Keywords:

  • tectonic and monsoonal controls on coral atolls in South China Sea;
  • three coral atoll types in South China Sea - continental shelf atolls, continental slope atolls and oceanic atolls;
  • types of atoll and geomorphology;
  • continental slope atolls and tectonics;
  • coral atolls in South China Sea;
  • atoll lagoon depth in South China Sea;
  • bi-directional formation model and monsoons;
  • surface wave intensity - control by monsoons and seasonal pattern;
  • oceanic atolls and continental shelf atolls of tropical oceans and seas

Summary

There are three types of coral atolls in the South China Sea: continental shelf atolls, continental slope atolls and oceanic atolls. This classification is based mainly on tectonic settings. These atolls form a complete system, which has not been described in other seas and oceans. Major tectonic trends seemingly control the distribution and directions of continental slope atolls. The size of reef-crests is closely related to that of antecedent platforms. Based on the width of the reef-crest, the continuity of the reef-wall and the existence of a lagoon, modern continental slope atolls can be classified into three types: large atolls with separate table reefs, medium atolls with a continuous reef wall, and small atolls or isolated table reefs. Slope atolls are larger than shelf atolls in the Great Barrier Reef, and reef-crest width for various classes must range between 5.5 and 2.5 km. The alternating influence of NE and SW monsoons, waves and currents on the antecedent platforms of continental slope atolls leads to a relatively symmetrical morphology with a more developed NE reef-crest. This bi-directional formation of slope coral atolls contrasts with the formation of shelf and oceanic atolls, which are controlled by unidirectional trade winds.