Modelling of pulse-like velocity ground motion during the 2018 Mw6.3 Hualien earthquake, Taiwan

Yen Yu Lin, Hiroo Kanamori, Zhongwen Zhan, Kuo Fong Ma, Te Yang Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The 2018 February 6 Mw 6.3 Hualien earthquake caused severe localized damage in Hualien City, located 20 km away from the epicentre. The damage was due to strong (>70 cm s-1) and sharp (duration ∼2.5 s) velocity pulses. The observed peak ground-motion velocity in Hualien City symmetrically decays with distance from the nearby Milun fault. Waveforms observed on the opposite sides of the fault show reversed polarity on the vertical and N-S components while the E-W component is almost identical. None of the published finite-fault slip models can explain the spatially highly localized large velocity pulses. In this study, we show that an Mw 5.9 strike-slip subevent on the Milun fault at 2.5 km depth, rupturing from north to south at ∼0.9Vs speed, combined with site effects caused by surficial layers with low S-wave speed, can explain the velocity pulses observed at the dense strong-motion network stations. This subevent contributes only 25 per cent of the total moment of the 2018 Hualien earthquake, suggesting that a small local slip patch near a metropolis can dominate the local hazard. Our result strongly suggests that seismic hazard assessments should consider large ground-motion variabilities caused by directivity and site effects, as observed in the 2018 Hualien earthquake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-365
Number of pages18
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Earthquake ground motions
  • Earthquake source observations
  • Site effects


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