Abstract

The studied seep carbonates from Tsushima, Japan, are embedded within marine siliciclastics of the lower Miocene Taishu Group and represent the earliest evidence of hydrocarbon seepage in the Sea of Japan. In contrast to Miocene and Pliocene examples from Honshu, which are often found above anticlines, the seeps from Tsushima formed within a pull-apart basin before major anticlines had formed. The three carbonates from Fukuzaki, Kanoura and Tanohama are composed chiefly of calcite, with significant admixture of ankerite only at Kanoura. The stable carbon isotope composition of calcites (δ13C as low as −40.2 ‰ VPDB for Fukuzaki, −41.8 ‰ VPDB for Kanoura, and −52.8 ‰ VPDB for Tanohama) indicate methanogenic origin of the carbonates. Textures of these deposits, including radiaxial and yellow cements, are indicative of formation at a methane seep. The stable oxygen isotope composition of calcites (δ18O values as low as −14.4 ‰ VPDB for Fukuzaki, −14.5 ‰ VPDB for Kanoura and −13.9 ‰ VPDB for Tanohama) indicate that they were influenced by burial fluids. Burial diagenesis is also indicated by the stable isotopic compositions of ankerite (δ13C ranging from −19.1 ‰ to −7.1 ‰ VPDB, δ18O from −11.1 ‰ to −9.7 ‰ VPDB). Molecular fossils from Tanohama comprise n-alkanes with short-chain predominance, interpreted to have formed due to thermal cracking of organic matter. The carbonates yield a chemosynthesis-based community comprising vesicomyids Pleurophopsis chitanii, P. cf. hamuroi, the bathymodiolin ‘Bathymodiolusakanudaensis, the lucinid Lucinoma sp. and the provannid Provanna? sp., which have never been hitherto identified. ‘Bathymodiolusakanudaensis, Lucinoma sp. and Provanna? sp. are the oldest records of these taxa in the Sea of Japan.

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