Cenozoic evolution of the Sulu Sea arc-basin system: an overview
Lai, C-K and Xia, X-P and Hall, R and Meffre, S and Tsikouras, B and Balangue-Tarriela, MIR and Idrus, A and Ifandi, E and Norazme, NA, Cenozoic evolution of the Sulu Sea arc-basin system: an overview, Tectonics, 40, (2) Article e2020TC006630. ISSN 0278-7407 (2021) [Refereed Article]
The Cenozoic Sulu Sea arc‐basin system is situated in the tectonic junction between the South China Sea (SCS), northern Borneo, Palawan Continental Terrane, Philippine Mobile Belt, and Celebes Sea. We compare new/published geochronological and geochemical data from across the circum‐Sulu Sea region, and summarize seven major magmatic phases from the Middle Eocene to Pleistocene. The Middle Eocene (42.65 Ma) Sabah ophiolite and Eocene‐Oligocene (34‐33 Ma) Central Palawan ophiolite have MORB‐IAT‐transitional features, representing an intraoceanic subduction setting in the Paleogene northern Borneo and central‐southern Palawan. After the SCS opening (∼32 Ma) and ridge jump (∼25 Ma), late‐stage Proto‐SCS subduction (24‐21 Ma) may have formed the Panay arc andesite and the BABB magmatism in SW Zamboanga peninsula. Starting of final convergence between the Palawan Continental Terrane and northern Borneo‐SW Philippines (∼21 Ma) likely caused regional uplift/thrusting, forming the Top Crocker Unconformity and triggering the NW‐dipping Celebes Sea subduction. The subduction may have formed arc magmatism (21‐18 Ma) in the Cagayan ridge and its continuation in Panay and NE Sabah, and opened the NW Sulu Sea back‐arc basin through continental crust attenuation. Subduction rollback likely occurred in 17‐14 Ma and 13‐9 Ma, shifting arc magmatism southeast to the Sulu ridge and opening the SE Sulu Sea back‐arc basin. NW‐dipping Celebes Sea subduction largely ceased after ∼9 Ma, followed by extension‐related uplift/exhumation and 4‐0.2 Ma intraplate volcanism in northern Borneo. SE‐dipping Sulu Sea subduction likely occurred along the Negros‐Sulu trenches, and produced arc volcanism from ∼4 Ma.