Multi-phase subsidence history of the Sarawak continental margin and its regional significance

Final Front
Author : Mazlan Madon, John Jong
Publication : Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia
Page : 81 - 99
Volume Number : 76
Year : 2023

Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, Volume 76, November 2023, pp. 81 – 99

Mazlan Madon 1,*, John Jong 2,3

1 6, Jalan Kelab Golf 13/6G, Seksyen 13, 40100 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
2 JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration (Malaysia) Ltd, Level 17, Menara Prestige, No. 1, Jalan Pinang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3 Present address: A26-05, One Residences, No. 1 Jalan Satu, 55200 Chan Sow Lin, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

* Corresponding author email address:

Abstract: Subsidence analysis of Sarawak Basin using stratigraphic data from a selection of exploration wells revealed a multi-phase history of crustal extension (rifting), subsidence and uplift. A relatively rapid subsidence during the early rift phase from Eocene to Oligocene (ca. 37–28 Ma) was followed by a gradual decrease in subsidence rate as the extended lithosphere underwent post-rift thermal relaxation (ca. 28–22 Ma). A second phase of extension during the Early Miocene (ca. 22–17 Ma) resulted in an increase in subsidence rate, which coincided with a major episode of compressional deformation, uplift and localised erosion. This deformation event culminated in a major unconformity dated ~16 Ma, known as the Middle Miocene Unconformity (MMU), which is recognised throughout the Bunguran Trough and North Luconia regions of Sarawak Basin as a major stratigraphic hiatus spanning the Early to Middle Miocene. Since the Late Miocene, there had been an increase in the subsidence rate, probably due to progradation of the Sarawak shelf to its present-day configuration. The complex subsidence history of Sarawak Basin is similar to those reported from other parts of the South China Sea margin. The subsidence histories indicate a common, underlying tectonic factor which is probably related to rifting and sea-floor spreading in the southwestern prong of the South China Sea oceanic basin.

Keywords: Sarawak Basin, rifting, subsidence, Middle Miocene Unconformity


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Manuscript received 24 June 2023;
Received in revised form 10 August 2023;
Accepted 17 August 2023
Available online 29 November 2023


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