Slip rates on the Chelungpu and Chushiang thrust faults inferred from a deformed strath terrace along the Dungpuna river, west central Taiwan

Martine Simoes, Jean Philippe Avouac, Yue Gau Chen

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42 Citations (Scopus)


The Chelungpu fault produced the September 1999 Mw = 7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake, central Taiwan. The shortening rate accommodated by this structure, integrated over several seismic cycles, and its contribution to crustal shortening across the Taiwanese range have remained unresolved. To address the issues, we focus our study on the Chelungpu and Chushiang thrust faults within the southernmost portion of the Chi-Chi rupture area. Structural measurements and available seismic profiles are used to infer the subsurface geometry of structures. The Chushiang and Chelungpu faults appear as two splay faults branching onto a common ramp that further north connects only to the Chelungpu surface trace. We survey a deformed strath terrace along the Dungpuna river, buried under a 11,540 ± 309 years old fill deposit. Given this age, the dip angles of the faults, and the vertical throw determined from the offset of the strath terrace across the surface fault traces, we estimate slip rates of 12.9 ± 4.8 and 2.9 ± 1.6 mm/yr on the Chelungpu and Chushiang faults, respectively. These yield a total shortening rate of 15.8 ± 5.1 mm/yr to be absorbed on their common decollement at depth. This total value is an upper bound for the slip rate on the Chelungpu fault further north, where the Chushiang fault disappears and transfers shortening to adjacent faults. Combining these results with the recently constrained shortening rate on the Changhua blind thrust reveals that all these frontal faults presently absorb most of the long-term horizontal shortening across the Taiwanese range. They thus stand as the major sources of seismic hazards in this heavily populated area. The return period of earthquakes similar to the Chi-Chi event over a ∼80 km long stretch of the Western Foothills is estimated to be ∼64 years. This value is an underestimate because it assumes that all the faults locked during the interseismic period slip only during such large events. Comparison with historical seismicity suggests that episodic aseismic deformation might also play a major role in accommodating shortening.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberB03S10
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 4 Mar 2007


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