Deformation patterns and potential active movements of the Fansipan mountain range, northern Vietnam

Thi Hue Dinh, Yu Chang Chan, Chung Pai Chang, Chih Tung Chen, Yi Chun Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Located in northern Vietnam, the Fansipan mountain range is the highest topography in the Indochina area. Until recently, there has been limited research regarding the tectonic deformation of the Fansipan mountain range and whether there are notable surface ruptures or active faults in the area. This study provides the first insight into the deformation patterns and potential active movements of the Fansipan mountain range, and may improve our understanding of the overall tectonic activities in northern Vietnam. Our observations from ASTER 30-m DEM show a symmetrical mountain form in the north and an asymmetrical form in the south. The analysis of river profiles indicates similar patterns on both sides in the north and different patterns in the south with short and steep rivers on the SW side and long and gentle rivers on the NE side. The results of the normalized steepness index (ksn) also show higher values on the SW side of the south part than the values from the other sides. These results suggest a spatial variation in rock uplift patterns of the Fansipan mountain range. Notably, the mountain front of the SW side of the southern Fansipan mountain range is associated with the Phong Tho-Nam Pia normal fault, suggesting that the normal faulting activity likely played an important role in tectonic uplift of this high mountain range. Our investigation of the stress field using fault kinematics indicates that the Fansipan mountain range and its surrounding areas are undergoing an inhomogeneous mixture of strike-slip and normal faulting. It is proposed that the strike-slip and normal motions alternated because of a permutation of σ12 under the same extensional stress regime of approximately NE–SW σ3. This kinematic pattern may effectively control the recent tectonic movements in northern Vietnam.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-51
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Active normal faulting
  • Fansipan mountain range
  • Normalized steepness index (k)
  • River profile
  • Stress field analysis
  • Stress permutation


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