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Interpretation of high-resolution two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) seismic data collected in the Qiongdongnan Basin, South China Sea reveals the presence of polygonal faults, pockmarks, gas chimneys and slope failure in strata of Pliocene and younger age. The gas chimneys are characterized by low-amplitude reflections, acoustic turbidity and low P-wave velocity indicating fluid expulsion pathways. Coherence time slices show that the polygonal faults are restricted to sediments with moderate-amplitude, continuous reflections. Gas hydrates are identified in seismic data by the presence of bottom simulating reflectors (BSRs), which have high amplitude, reverse polarity and are subparallel to seafloor. Mud diapirism and mounded structures have variable geometry and a great diversity regarding the origin of the fluid and the parent beds. The gas chimneys, mud diapirism, polygonal faults and a seismic facies-change facilitate the upward migration of thermogenic fluids from underlying sediments. Fluids can be temporarily trapped below the gas hydrate stability zone, but fluid advection may cause gas hydrate dissociation and affect the thickness of gas hydrate zone. The fluid accumulation leads to the generation of excess pore fluids that release along faults, forming pockmarks and mud volcanoes on the seafloor. These features are indicators of fluid flow in a tectonically-quiescent sequence, Qiongdongnan Basin.
Geofluids (2010) 10, 351–368