Deciphering cumulative fault slip vectors from fold scarps: Relationships between long-term and coseismic deformations in central Western Taiwan

Maryline Le Béon, John Suppe, Manoj K. Jaiswal, Yue Gau Chen, Michaela E. Ustaszewski

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22 Scopus citations


We document the 30 ka cumulative slip history and long-term slip vector azimuth on the northern Chelungpu fault based on a series of fault-bend folded alluvial terraces and draw quantitative relationships between geological structure, deformation observed from the geomorphology, and coseismic displacements during the 1999 Mw = 7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake. In our study area, three main terrace levels show progressive folding by kink band migration in relation to the underlying fault geometry, forming a main N-S fold scarp up to ∼193 m high and secondary E-W scarps. Detailed analysis using 5 m resolution digital elevation model allows us to characterize the scarp morphology and quantify the deformation parameters, namely, terrace heights, fold scarp relief, and fold limb width and slope angle. The 3-D deformation of the highest terrace, dated by optically stimulated luminescence at 30.2 ± 4.0 ka, enables to simultaneously determine amplitude and azimuth of the long-term slip vector based on scarp relief. The long-term slip vector, oriented N338 ± 6, is found to parallel the Chi-Chi coseismic displacements in this area. Cumulative slip and dating results yield a constant slip rate of 17.7 ± 2.2 mm/a in the direction N338 ± 6. Late Quaternary shortening rates observed at four sites vary along strike in a similar way to Chi-Chi coseismic displacements. Together with the collinearity of long-term and coseismic slip vectors at our study site, this suggests that Chi-Chi earthquake is a characteristic earthquake for the Chelungpu thrust with recurrence interval ∼470 years. We also discuss implications for the regional and long-term distribution of shortening in the central Western Foothills. Key Points We draw relationships between geological structure and fold scarps morphology Three-dimensional folded terraces reveal 30 ka slip vector parallel to coseismic displacements Repeating Chi-Chi earthquakes every 470 years adds up to 30 ka shortening

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5943-5978
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • characteristic earthquake
  • Chelungpu fault
  • fault-bend fold
  • fold scarp
  • OSL
  • slip vector


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