Tectono-stratigraphic evolution and hydrocarbon exploration in the Eocene Southern Lufeng Depression, Pearl River Mouth Basin, South China Sea
The structural evolution and stratigraphic architecture of the Southern Lufeng Depression in the Pearl River Mouth Basin, South China Sea show two second-order sequences (SSQ1 and SSQ2) and nine third-order sequences (WSQ1-5 and ESQ1-4) within the Eocene rift-related successions. Based on integrated interpretations of seismic reflections, well logs and core data, five distinct tectono-stratigraphic patterns are identified: (1) the initial synrift-I sequence (WSQ1) of low tectonic subsidence, overfilled by alluvial fan or fan-delta deposits and volcanic deposits, with no clear systems tracts; (2) the climax synrift-I sequences (WSQ2-4) developed in response to rapid tectonic subsidence, generally consisting of a low-stand systems tract (LST), transgressive systems tract (TST) and high-stand systems tract (HST); (3) the late synrift-I sequence (WSQ5) characterised by a decreased tectonic subsidence rate, dominated by braided delta, deep and shallow lacustrine sediments, mainly constructed by TST and HST; (4) the early synrift-II sequences (ESQ1-2) rapidly filled by braided deltaic sandstone and mainly composed of TST and HST with less common LST units; and (5) the late synrift-II sequences (ESQ3-4), which are totally filled by braided deltaic system in a shallow-water lake setting, presenting typical imbricate clinoforms or sub-parallel seismic configurations, consisting of only TST and HST components. During the climax stage of synrift-I development, the depositional setting changed from a prominent shallow lake (WSQ2) to a deep-lucustrine with turbiditic deposits (WSQ3) and finally dominated by mostly braided deltaic-shallow lacustrine deposits (WSQ4); the HST occupies an increasing proportion from early to late. Furthermore, the stratigraphic patterns, especially LST units of the climax synrift-I stage, are significantly influenced by topographic variations and slope-break belt types in the hanging dip-slope. This study reveals that the spatial and temporal evolution of lacustrine depositional and stratigraphic patterns were significantly controlled by the interplay of tectonic subsidence and sediment supply, and provides a fundamental basis for predicting the favourable reservoirs and geometry of source rocks related to the general variability of Eocene rift-related tectonic subsidence in the Southern Lufeng Depression of the Pearl River Mouth Basin. Furthermore, the topographic responses of differential active fault-stepped patterns associated with magma intrusions, highlight the variability of relevant sequence architectures in the hanging dip-slope in lacustrine rift basins.