The NW Borneo deep-water fold-and-thrust belt, offshore Sabah, southern South China Sea, contains a structurally complex region of three to four seafloor ridges outboard of the shelf-slope break. Previous studies have suggested the seafloor ridges formed either above shale diapirs produced by mass movement of overpressured shales (i.e., mobile shale) or above an imbricate fold-and-thrust array. Here, we performed tectonostratigraphic analyses on a petroleum industry three-dimensional (3-D) seismic volume that imaged the full growth stratal record. We show fold growth history, deformation styles, along-strike structural variabilities, and synkinematic sedimentation during triangle zone–style fold growth. Nine seismic horizons within growth strata were mapped and correlated to petroleum industry seismostratigraphy. Synkinematic sedimentation interactions with growing folds and near-surface strains were analyzed from seismic attribute maps. We interpret that the seafloor structures were formed by imbricate thrusts above multiple detachments. We estimate ~8 km minimum shortening since the late Miocene ca. 10 Ma. The folds show oversteepened fold forelimbs, back-rotated backlimbs, and forward-vergent (NW to NNW) “blind” thrust ramps that terminate within the growth strata. Fold cores show evidence of internal shear. Immature folds show detachment fold geometries, whereas mature folds show forelimb break thrusts, type I triangle zones, and rotated forward-vergent roof thrusts. Thrust linkages spaced ~10 km apart were exploited as thrust top synkinematic sedimentation pathways; the linkages also partition near-surface strains. Our comprehensive, three-dimensional documentation of triangle zone fold growth and sedimentation in a deep-water fold belt highlights internal shear, multiple detachments, and opposite thrust vergence; mobile shales are not required to explain the deformation.
Research Article| December 19, 2019
Growth of triangle zone fold-thrusts within the NW Borneo deep‑water fold belt, offshore Sabah, southern South China Sea
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Jonny Wu, Ken McClay, Jose de Vera; Growth of triangle zone fold-thrusts within the NW Borneo deep‑water fold belt, offshore Sabah, southern South China Sea. Geosphere doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/GES02106.1
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