2023 journal article

Connecting link between a sediment source and its deep-sea sink: Ilan Shelf offshore northeastern Taiwan


By: H. Hsu*, C. Liu*, J. Milliman*, T. Chen*, J. Chang*, J. Liu n, C. Su*, M. Fan*

author keywords: Source-to-sink; Seismic stratigraphy; Sediment budget; Mass movement; Extensional tectonics; Okinawa trough
UN Sustainable Development Goal Categories
14. Life Below Water (OpenAlex)
Source: Web Of Science
Added: February 12, 2024

The northeast Taiwan margin provides an excellent example of the route of sediment flux from a small mountainous river, the Lanyang River, to a deep-sea basin, the Southern Okinawa Trough (SOT), via a very narrow(8–14 km in width)Ilan Shelf at different time scales. Based on seismic and sub-bottom chirp profiles and onshore borehole and offshore core data, we identify three echo types on the Ilan Shelf that delineate sheets of sediment, mass movement deposits, and echoes indicative of igneous activity. By recognizing lithofacies and seismic facies changes, the Last Glacial Maximum Unconformity and maximum flooding surface are correlated in onshore cores and offshore reflection seismic profiles. With the aids of sequence stratigraphic analysis, the postglacial sedimentation rates on the Ilan Shelf are estimated to range from 0.04 to 1.53 cm/yr. Considering its sediment budget in a source-to-sink system, the Ilan Shelf can be regarded primarily as a temporary trap for fluvial sediment discharged from the Lanyang River. Overall, it has trapped at least 50% of the discharged sediment during the Holocene, and the bulk of sediment was transported, primarily via mass movement to SOT. We deduce that earthquake-induced faulting, axial incision in the channel, and retrogressive failures appear to be triggers for mass wasting, which then combined with channel transport, can play leading roles in rapid downslope transportation to the trough. This inference is indicated by high deposition rates in the western end of SOT and widely distributed mass transport deposits observed in the shallow strata of SOT. We found that the deep strata of SOT are deformed by normal faults, indicating that the sediment accommodation space is structurally controlled by the active back-arc extension. This study documents that frequent typhoons and flooding events, together with strong tidal currents, are significant agents of sediment input over the short term. In contrast, earthquakes and volcanic events occasionally affect sediment dispersal from the Ilan Shelf to SOT.