The overriding of the Luzon volcanic arc atop the underlying Chinese rifted-continental margin has caused the formation of the Taiwan mountain belts and a peripheral foreland basin west of the orogen since the late Miocene. In this study, lithofacies analysis and calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphic investigations of the Dahan River section in northwestern (NW) Taiwan were performed. Our results offer insights into the temporal evolution of the sedimentary environments and the competing effects of the sedimentation and basin tectonics of the NW Taiwan foreland basin from the Pliocene to early Pleistocene. Nannofossil biostratigraphic studies showed that the upper Kueichulin Formation and the overlying Chinshui Shale can be assigned to the NN15 biozone of the Pliocene age, and the Cholan Formation pertains to NN16-NN18 of the early Pleistocene. The NN15-NN16 boundary coincides roughly with the boundary of the Chinshui Shale and Cholan Formation. We recognized three major sedimentary environments in the studied foreland succession comprising the upper Kueichulin Formation, Chinshui Shale, Cholan Formation and Yangmei Formation, in ascending order. During the deposition of the upper Kueichulin Formation in the early Pliocene, the dominant environment was a wave- and tide-influenced open marine setting. During the late Pliocene, the environment deepened to an outer-offshore setting when the sediments of Chinshui Shale were accumulated. In the Pleistocene, the environment then shallowed to wave-dominated estuaries during the deposition of the lower Cholan Formation, and the basin was rapidly filled, generating a meandering and sandy braided river environment during the deposition of the upper Cholan to the Yangmei Formation. In summary, the evolution of sedimentary environments in the studied succession shows a deepening then a shallowing and coarsening upward trend during the period from the Pliocene to the Pleistocene, spanning the age from approximately 4 to 1 Ma.
- Foreland basin
- Sedimentary environments