The South China Sea: Paleoceanography and Sedimentology



The South China Sea is the largest low-latitude marginal sea on the globe. For a long time, researchers from various fields have been curious about the sea. For instance, geologists pay particular attention to the spreading history of the sea basin; they believe that the spreading of the sea more than 30 million years ago was probably caused by southward extrusion of the Indo-China Peninsula Block due to uplift of the Tibetan Plateau following the collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates. Furthermore, the South China Sea now provides almost half of the water vapor for the East Asian monsoon. The formation and evolution of the monsoon relate closely to the uplift history of the Tibetan Plateau. Consequently, climatologists want to understand the commencement of the monsoon circulation over East Asia and its relationship with the evolution of the South China Sea. In addition, the sea is characterized by a broad shelf and a broad slope, now under very thick sediments. Over the years, scientists in industry and academia have carried out many studies on the voluminous petroleum and gas hydrate resources stored in the deposits. The enhanced surface weathering processes after plateau uplift may have also exerted a strong influence on global carbon cycling, and this process should have been recorded in the sea sediments. In short, scientists consider the South China Sea a valuable site for studying the interactions between different spheres of the Earth system.