The Earth has witnessed the emergence of continental-sized ice sheets, starting with Antarctica and gradually extending to both hemispheres over the past 40 million years. These ice accumulations have had a dramatic impact on both paleoclimate and sea level, substantially influencing sediment deposition in the continental margins. However, understanding sediment accumulation on an orbital scale in continental margins remains limited because of the scarcity of high-resolution, chronologically constrained sedimentary records. Here, we conducted a highly resolved cyclostratigraphic analysis based on natural gamma radiation (GR) series in depth domain at the continental margin of the South China Sea. We established a 22.8 m.y.-long high-resolution astronomical time scale spanning from the Miocene to the Quaternary by tuning the GR records to the global deep-sea benthic foraminifera carbon isotope curves and the 405 k.y. eccentricity cycles. The m.y.-scale sea-level changes since the Miocene were reconstructed through the sedimentary noise modeling of the 405-k.y.-tuned GR series. These reconstructions aligned with regional and global sea-level changes. The phase correlation between the filtered 1.2 m.y. cycles of sea-level change curves (dynamic noise after orbital tuning and ρ1 median models) from δ13Cbenthic and tuned GR series and the 1.2 m.y. obliquity amplitude modulation cycles revealed a shift from an anti-phase to an in-phase relationship across the middle Miocene climate transition (ca. 13.8 Ma), suggesting extensive expansion of the Antarctic ice sheet played a key role. In addition, a shift from an in-phase to an anti-phase relationship during the late Miocene (ca. 8 Ma and 5.3 Ma), indicating ephemeral expansion of the Arctic ice sheets or the changes in carbon cycle involving the terrestrial and deep ocean carbon reservoirs, might be the primary driver of eustatic changes. Furthermore, obliquity forcing and changes in meridional gradients in insolation that transported poleward flux of heat, moisture, and precipitation increased ice accumulation in both pole ice sheets and nonlinearly transferred high-latitude signals to low-latitude regions. This phenomenon is supported by the observation of strong obliquity signals in low latitude during global climate cooling interval. Our results suggest that m.y.-scale sea-level variations respond to astronomically induced climate change and ice sheet dynamics of both poles. This work contributes a highly resolved low-latitude geological archive to the future reconstruction of paleoclimate evolution on a global scale.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.
You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.