Thirty-nine surface sediment samples collected from the western Sunda Shelf off the Malay Peninsula (WSSMP) in the southern South China Sea (SCS) were analysed for grain size, major and trace elemental compositions, and light/heavy mineral contents to trace the sediment sources and their transport mechanisms in the study area. In the WSSMP, the surface sediments are relatively poorly sorted but transportable. A principal component analysis of 37 elements and grain size fractions indicates that the surface sediments can be grouped into four major assemblages in the study area. Integrating with the light/heavy minerals data in the 63–125 μm fractions of the surface sediment samples, to better trace the sediment sources of the coarse-grained components in the marine environment, the study area can be further divided into four sediment provinces. Province I is located in the northwestern part of the study area. The concentrations of TiO2
O, garnet, siderite, and glauconite in Province I were higher than in the other provinces. The main sediment source for this province originated from the Kelantan River and the Gulf of Thailand transported by the northeastern monsoon current. Province II is located offshore of the Pahang and Endau Rivers. The percentages of TiO2
, rare earth elements, Al2
, quartz, plagioclase, hypersthene, and magnetite in the surface sediments were typically higher in this province than in the other provinces. The Pahang and Endau rivers provide most of the sediments to this province, which are transported by southward coastal currents. Province III is located in the northeastern and eastern parts of the study area, where the coarse-grained sediment fraction had relatively high hornblende and biotite contents. Sediments in this province are mostly transported from the Mekong River during the northeastern monsoon. The other parts of the study area belong to Province IV, where the surface sediment elemental and mineral concentrations were mostly between those of the other three provinces. Therefore, we suggest that Province IV has a mixed source due to inputs from the surrounding rivers.
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