Improved alignment of the Hengchun Fault (southern Taiwan) based on fieldwork, structure-from-motion, shallow drilling, and levelling data

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The fault systems of Taiwan have been repeatedly studied over many decades. Still, new surveys consistently bring fresh insights into their mechanisms, activity and geological characteristics. The neotectonic map of Taiwan is under constant development. Although the most active areas manifest at the on-land boundary of the Philippine Sea Plate and Eurasia (a suture zone known as the Longitudinal Valley), and at the southwestern area of the Western Foothills, the fault systems affect the entire island. The Hengchun Peninsula represents the most recently emerged part of the Taiwan orogen. This narrow 20–25 km peninsula appears relatively aseismic. However, at the western flank the peninsula manifests tectonic activity along the Hengchun Fault. In this study, we surveyed the tectonic characteristics of the Hengchun Fault. Based on fieldwork, four years of monitoring fault displacement in conjunction with levelling data, core analysis, UAV surveys and mapping, we have re-evaluated the fault mechanisms as well as the geological formations of the hanging and footwall. We surveyed features that allowed us to modify the existing model of the fault in two ways: 1) correcting the location of the fault line in the southern area of the peninsula by moving it westwards about 800 m; 2) defining the lithostratigraphy of the hanging and footwall of the fault. A bathymetric map of the southern area of the Hengchun Peninsula obtained from the Atomic Energy Council that extends the fault trace offshore to the south distinctively matches our proposed fault line. These insights, coupled with crust-scale tomographic data from across the Manila accretionary system, form the basis of our opinion that the Hengchun Fault may play a major role in the tectonic evolution of the southern part of the Taiwan orogen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-447
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 28 Nov 2017


  • Active fault
  • Improved alignment
  • Lithostratigraphy
  • Neotectonics
  • South Taiwan


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