Secara georafis sulit menentukan batas-batas kepulauan tersebut yang disepakati bersama. Kepulauan ini memiliki luas Kepulauan Spratly memiliki letak yang strategis baik dari segi militer dan pertahanan maupun sebagai jalur perdagangan Internasional. Selain itu kepulauan Spratly disinyalir memiliki kekayaan sumber daya minyak dan gas alam yang melimpah. Kandungan minyak dan gas di kepulauan ini diperkirakan mencapai hampir sekitar 18 miliar ton.

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A geographic map of Spratlys [a] Geology The Spratly Islands consist of islands, reefs, banks and shoals that consist of biogenic carbonate. These accumulations of biogenic carbonate lie upon the higher crests of major submarine ridges that are uplifted fault blocks known by geologists as horsts.

These horsts are part of a series of parallel and en echelon, half-grabens and rotated fault-blocks. The long axes of the horsts, rotated fault blocks and half- grabens form well-defined linear trends that lie parallel to magnetic anomalies exhibited by the oceanic crust of the adjacent South China Sea. The horsts, rotated fault blocks, and the rock forming the bottoms of associated grabens consist of stretched and subsided continental crust that is composed of Triassic , Jurassic , and Cretaceous strata that include calc-alkalic extrusive igneous rocks, intermediate to acid intrusive igneous rocks, sandstones , siltstones , dark-green claystones , and metamorphic rocks that include biotite — muscovite — feldspar — quartz migmatites and garnet — mica schists.

They occurred as the result of the tectonic stretching of continental crust along underlying deeply rooted detachment faults. During the Late Cretaceous and Early Oligocene , the earliest period of tectonic stretching of continental crust and formation of horsts, half-grabens, and rotated fault-blocks occurred in association the rifting and later sea-floor spreading that created the South China Sea.

During the Late Oligocene-Early Miocene additional stretching and block faulting of continental crust occurred within the Spratly Islands and adjacent Dangerous Ground. During and after this period of tectonic activity, corals and other marine life colonised the crests of the horsts and other ridges that lay in shallow water. The remains of these organisms accumulated over time as biogenic carbonates that comprise the current day reefs, shoals and cays of the Spratly Islands.

Starting with their formation in Late Cretaceous, fine-grained organic-rich marine sediments accumulated within the numerous submarine half-grabens that underlie sea bottom within the Dangerous Ground region. They include thick sequences of Cenozoic sediments east of the Spratly Islands.

Southeast and west of them, there also exist thick accumulations of sediments that possibly might contain economic oil and gas reserves lie closer to the Spratly Islands. Under the influence of the dominant wind direction, which changes seasonally, these sediments move around the island to change the shape and size of the island.

Groundwater levels fluctuate during the day with the rhythm of the tides. The principal minerals bearing phosphate are podolite, lewistonite and dehonite.

Larger islands are capable of supporting tropical forest , scrub forest , coastal scrub and grasses. It is difficult to determine which species have been introduced or cultivated by humans.

Taiping Island Itu Aba was reportedly covered with shrubs , coconut , and mangroves in ; pineapple was also cultivated there when it was profitable. Other accounts mention papaya , banana, palm , and even white peach trees growing on one island. A few islands that have been developed as small tourist resorts had soil and trees brought in and planted where there was none.

These species reportedly continue to nest even on islands inhabited by military personnel such as Pratas to some extent, though it is believed that their numbers have declined.

Species found here include streaked shearwater Calonectris leucomelas , brown booby Sula leucogaster , red-footed booby S. Bird eggs cover the majority of Southwest Cay , a small island in the eastern Danger Zone. Scientists have focused their research on the marine environment, while the ecology of the terrestrial environment remains relatively unknown. Sea turtles are also slaughtered for food on a significant scale. The sea turtle is a symbol of longevity in Chinese culture and at times the military personnel are given orders to protect the turtles.

Although it has been outlawed, fishing methods continue to include the use of bottom trawlers fitted with chain rollers. These activities have a devastating impact on local marine organisms and coral reefs.

The collection of rare medicinal plants, collecting of wood, and hunting for the wildlife trade are common threats to the biodiversity of the entire region, including these islands. Coral habitats are threatened by pollution, over-exploitation of fish and invertebrates, and the use of explosives and poisons as fishing techniques.

Although the consequences of substrate mining are hidden, they are tremendous. There are global security concerns associated with the damage. Most would not be able to get near the artificial islands except possibly some from PRC, and those would not be able to release their findings. Therefore, it is difficult to say when humans first came upon this island group. Within historical times, several groups may have passed through or occupied the islands. This may have led them through the Spratly Islands on their way to Vietnam.

These migrants were the forebears of the Cham people , an Austronesian-speaking people that founded the Old Champa empire that ruled what was known for centuries as the Champa Sea.

They are also referenced, sometimes with different names, in the Ming dynasty. He described it as where sea products and shipwrecked cargoes were available to be collected. The Vietnamese government conducted several geographical surveys of the islands in the 18th century.

Despite the fact that China and Vietnam both made a claim to these territories simultaneously, at the time, neither side was aware that its neighbour had already charted and made claims to the same stretch of islands.

A later edition of the map named the Spratly Island as Storm Island. In , German boats surveyed the Spratly and the Paracel Islands but eventually withdrew the survey, after receiving protests from the Guangdong government representing the Qing dynasty. China sent naval forces on inspection tours in and and placed flags and markers on the islands.

Meads, supposedly an American descendant of a British naval captain who gave his name to Meads Island Itu Aba in the s.

This claim to this would-be micronation fell dormant after , when several members of the group drowned in a typhoon. This occupation was protested by the Republic of China ROC government because France admitted finding Chinese fishermen there when French warships visited nine of the islands.

Japan occupied some of the islands in during World War II, and it used the islands as a submarine base for the occupation of Southeast Asia. Japan occupied the Paracels and the Spratlys from February to August


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