Tectonic significance of the Taitung Canyon, Huatung Basin, east of Taiwan

Jean Claude Sibuet, Shu Kun Hsu, Alain Normand

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12 Scopus citations


Since the beginning of formation of Proto-Taiwan, the subducting Philippine (PH) Sea plate has moved continuously through time in the N307° direction with respect to Eurasia (EU), tearing the EU plate. The subducting EU plate includes a continental part in the north and an oceanic part in the south. The boundary B between these two domains corresponds to the eastern prolongation of the northeastern South China Sea ocean-continent transition zone. In the Huatung Basin (east of Taiwan), the Taitung Canyon is N065° oriented and is close and parallel to B. Seismic profiles show that the southern flank of the canyon corresponds to a fault with a normal component of a few tens of meters in the sediments and possible dextral shearing. Several crustal earthquakes of magnitude >6 are located beneath the trend of the Taitung Canyon and focal mechanisms suggest that the motion is right-lateral. Thus, faulting within the sedimentary sequence beneath the Taitung Canyon is a consequence of underlying dextral strike-slip crustal motions. As the continental part of the EU slab located north of B has been recently detached, some subsequent dextral strike-slip motion might be expected within the EU slab, along the ocean-continent transition zone, which is a potential zone of weakness. We suggest that the dextral strike-slip motion along the ocean-continent boundary of the EU slab might trigger the observed dextral strike-slip motion within the overlying PH Sea crust and the associated faulting within the sediments of the Huatung Basin, beneath the Taitung Canyon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Geophysical Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Right lateral strike-slip fault
  • Taitung canyon
  • Underlying slab deformation along trasition zone


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