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CAS Key Laboratory of Marginal Sea Geology TEXT SIZE: A A A

 Marginal sea is a peculiar geological unit generated in the transition zone extending from continental to oceanic lithosphere, and is an area where lithospheric deformation, sediments accumulation, magmatism and formation of oil and gas deposits, etc. are concentrated. As a result, marginal sea geological research is not only associated with key scientific issues such as global structural dynamics, development and utilization of oceanic ore deposits, protection of oceanic environment, and global climate system study, etc., but also related to a series of significant requirements by the state for safeguarding national interests, developing oceanic economy, promoting the sustainable development of nature and society, and so on.

Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences has for long term been engaged in organic geochemistry, isotope geochemistry and continental margin geological and geochemical research, is equipped with a series of state-of-the-art geochemical testing equipment at the international first level and is very strong in both geochemical and geotectonic study. South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences has long been engaged in oceanological, geological and geophysical study about South China Sea, and is equipped with advanced ocean detection equipment and instruments as well as oceanic surveying vessels. As a result, abundant research data were accumulated and a series of significant achievements were made in oceanic geophysical prospecting and in paleooceanological study, etc. In August 2003, CAS Key Laboratory of Marginal Sea Geology was jointly founded by CAS Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry and CAS South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, and serves to provide an ideal working platform for scientists in geophysics, geotectonics and geochemistry, etc. with these two institutes to initiate fruitful cooperative work. In this way, a research team dedicated to marginal sea geological research was formed and demonstrates its advanced level in discipline construction, talent organization, equipment utilization both at home and abroad, and the original and innovative creativity is remarkably enhanced in geodynamic research on continental margin and marginal sea. The laboratory now occupies a room space of 3,565m2 (1,915m2 for labs and 1,650m2 for offices), and the instruments and equipment here are valued at a total of RMB¥56,550,000 (excluding the costs for two oceanic surveying vessels).

In regard to the research orientations, CAS Key Laboratory of Marginal Sea Geology aims to focus on South China Sea and its adjacent regions, and to carry out major research on the geological processes and related dynamics in the oceanic-continental lithosphere in marginal sea areas, the formation and distribution of oil and gas deposits in marginal sea, the evolution of marginal sea and its environmental impact, and the modern oceanic geochemical processes and mechanisms. The major research contents are involved in: (1) dynamics for geological processes in oceanic-continental lithosphere and formation and evolution of marginal sea; (2) formation of ore deposits including oil and gas in marginal sea and new technologies for the prospecting and development of these deposits; (3) paleoenvironmental effect of marginal sea; (4) modern oceanic geochemical processes and their mechanisms. The predicted targets are to build this laboratory, in about 10 years, into a lab dedicated to marginal sea geological research that will be of the first rate in China and show significant influence in the international academic community, and in this way, to make significant contributions toward development of geodynamics, theory on formation of resources like oil, gas and hydrates and study of global changes, development of oceanic economy in China as well as maintenance of China’s oceanic interests, in a fundamental, perspective and strategic way.

In the past five years, CAS Key Laboratory of Marginal Sea Geology has attained a series of important achievements in dynamics for marginal sea formation and evolution, interaction in oceanic-continental lithosphere, paleoenvironmental effect of marginal sea, theory on formation of oil and gas deposits in marginal sea and development of new technologies for prospecting and development of these deposits, and so on. In the period from 1999-2004, this laboratory undertook in succession multiple research projects at state level, provincial level, ministerial level, large enterprise level and projects for international cooperation, with the funding for all these projects totaling RMB¥63,400,000. Among all these projects, 19 were funded by the state 973 program, 5 by the state 863 program, 3 by the state brainstorm program, 1 by the state climbing program, 2 by the state oceanic program, 31 by China National Science Foundation (including 4 key grants and 27 ordinary grants), 26 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (including 21 projects funded by the CAS Innovation Program, 2 projects funded by the CAS Equipment Development Program, and 2 projects funded by the CAS Key Research Program). The staff scientists of this laboratory have published 185 papers in SCI journals (including 161 papers with the first authors being our staff scientists), 391 papers in Chinese core journals and statistical source journals, in addition to 12 monographs. The representative achievements made so far include the following:

  1. It is understood that the crust thickness in the middle of the Xisha ocean trough is reduced to 8km, while the crustal structures at its two sides are rather similar to one another since high velocity layer is lacking in the lower crust at these two sides. The thickness of hot lithosphere is reduced from 86-96km in the continental shelf region in the north of South China Sea to 60-65km in the Xisha ocean trough area. The north part of South China Sea belongs to the non-volcanic and passive type of continental margin, while the margins of the north and south parts of South China Sea may possibly belong to the non-conjugate type of continental margin.
  2. The ophiolite suite of rocks in the Neotethys structural domain and their genetic structural environments are manifold; the strike-slip obduction that occurred in 25-32Ma in West Yunnan is temporally consistent with the rapid uplift of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the opening of the South China Sea basin at their peak periods. Numerical simulation results indicate that Indo-Eurasian plate collision can result in the southeastward movement of materials in the South China Sea region and the nearly NS extension and pulling apart of the South China Sea basin, and it is proposed that the upwelling of superimposed mantle flow is the principal dynamic means that led to the expansion of South China Sea.
  3. Through study on the effect of fractionation of gas components during the processes of transformation of gas into hydrates, a chemical dynamic model was proposed for the formation of thermogenic gas-precipitated hydrates due to rapid seeping, and cold spring carbonate samples related to sea bottom gas seeping and paragenetic with hydrates were acquired through dredging in the north part of South China Sea.
  4. Geological records for 0.4 and 0.8Ma paracycles and some abrupt events were acquired from the polycyclic laterite series on the continental margin of South China Sea; The chronostratigraphic and biostratigraphic sequences at different time scales for the past 10 million years were preliminarily established for the different regions in South China Sea, and multiple indices demonstrate that a remarkable paleoecological change occurred at ca. 0.47Ma BP; The coral reef in South China Sea has recorded the El Niño events, cooling events and intense storm events that have occurred in the past 1,000 years.
  5. A multiple-layer simulated reaction and monitoring system for molecular biogeochemical study under extreme seabed conditions was developed, together with a test and correction platform for high (low) temperature and high pressure chemical transducer in a total titanium open flow system and a field testing system for fidelity samples collected from seabed hydrothermal deposits.

Ever since its establishment, CAS Key Laboratory of Marginal Sea Geology has adopted a director responsibility system that is steered by the leaders of GIGCAS and guided by the Academic Committee of the laboratory. Professor XIA Bin serves as the director of the laboratory, while Academician JIN Qinghuan as the director of its Academic Committee. Under the laboratory, five internal units were set up, and they are the geotectonic group dedicated to oceanic-continental lithosphere study, the oceanic geophysical study group, the paleooceanological and continental-oceanic interaction study group, the group dedicated to study of ore deposits in the marginal sea and its adjacent regions, and the group dedicated to study of crust-mantle interaction and oceanic geochemistry in marginal sea. The permanent staff consists of 20 professors, 14 associate professors and 1 engineer, here 90% of the staff are middle age to young scientists who hold Ph.D. degrees and have experience of studying, training or visiting in Taiwan, Hong Kong or foreign countries. Research by the 20 professors involves all the disciplines as needed by CAS Key Laboratory of Marginal Sea Geology, and five of them are outstanding talents imported from foreign countries, four of them are laureates for the CAS Program for 100 Outstanding Scientists. Because the staff scientists are heavily involved in their research projects, the ratio of permanent staff to floating staff is basically as high as 1:1.2. It should be pointed out here that three of the permanent staff are engaged in technical work in the laboratory. In the past five years here in this laboratory, 12 post-doc researchers have worked, 15 Ph.D. candidates and 10 M.Sc. students have been cultivated. Right now there are 12 post-doc researchers still in the workstation, together with 15 Ph.D. candidates and 28 M.Sc. graduate students. A great number of post-doc researchers have undertaken important scientific projects and published good results, and almost all the Ph.D. candidates and M.Sc. students have attained good scores in their graduate study and in their scientific research.


Address 1: Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wushan, Guangzhou, GD 510640, P. R. China

Tel: 86-20-85290734

Fax: 86-20-85290032



Address 2: South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 164 Xingangxi Road, Guangzhou, GD 510301, P. R. China

Tel: 020-89023157

Fax: 86-20-84451672



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