Climatic or tectonic control on organic matter deposition in the South China Sea? A lesson learned from a comprehensive Neogene palynological study of IODP Site U1433

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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Palynomorphs and other organic particles are basic key components of palynofacies, yet quantitative analyses of all types are rarely used together to investigate organic matter assemblage changes and evaluate the driving forces behind the observed changes. In this paper, eight organic-walled microfossil and particle morphologies (sporopollen, Pediastrum, Concentricystes, fungi, dinoflagellate cysts, structured/amorphous organic matters, stomatal apparatus and scolecodonts) are tabulated and their concentrations and fluxes are evaluated over the past 17 million years (Ma) in sediments recovered from the South China Sea at International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Site U1433. Overall, these morphologies show roughly similar increasing trends but with different levels of fluctuations. The uniform increase in all morphologies at ~ 8 Ma (named the ~ 8 Ma event) is the most notable feature of the past 17 Ma. To explain the trend, and because these various organic matters reflect various environmental conditions, we argue that the uniformity of the signal implies that tectonically-driven basin and drainage evolution played the key role, rather than paleoclimate (Asian summer monsoon). The ~ 8 Ma event was likely triggered by the onset of the Mekong River in its present location, although the role of monsoon evolution cannot be excluded completely.

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International Journal of Coal Geology

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