Coseismic thickness of principal slip zone from the Taiwan Chelungpu fault Drilling Project-A (TCDP-A) and correlated fracture energy

Li Wei Kuo, Hsiu Ching Hsiao, Sheng Rong Song, Hwo Shuenn Sheu, John Suppe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Direct observations of the physical structures of the seismogenic zones of active faults are rare, due to the difficulty in reaching the fault zone at depth. Current geological evidences, mostly from the surface, suggest that principal slip zone (PSZ) accommodated most shear displacement and was the place where physico-chemical processes occurred during an individual coseismic event and the thickness of PSZ is a few millimeter to tens of centimeter wide. However, the actual thickness of PSZ of a large earthquake, a key parameter of seismology in understanding energy dissipation and rupture processes, remains largely unknown. The Chelungpu fault that ruptured during the 1999 Mw 7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake (Taiwan) was drilled to a depth of 2003. m providing a unique opportunity to sample an active fault that slipped in a recent large earthquake. The PSZ, corresponding to the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake, was well characterized within cores at a borehole depth of 1111. m from the Taiwan Chelungpu fault Drilling Project-A (TCDP-A). Here we determine the interval of clay anomaly that resulted from frictional melting/thermal decomposition process by state-of-art in-situ synchrotron XRD analysis providing very high spatial resolution for mineralogy. Combined with the interval of the presence of vesicles from microstructural observation, the thickness of Chi-Chi PSZ is estimated to be 1. mm. Thus, the correlated contribution of surface fracture energy to earthquake breakdown work, at least in this locality, is quantified to be 1.9%. The huge remaining part of the breakdown work seems to be turned into heat associated with fault dynamic processes during the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2014


  • Chelungpu fault
  • Fracture energy
  • Principal slip zone
  • Pseudotachylyte
  • Synchrotron
  • TCDP


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