Thermo-mechanical structure beneath the young orogenic belt of Taiwan

Kuo Fong Ma, Teh Ru Alex Song

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13 Scopus citations


We investigate the thermo-mechanical properties beneath the young orogenic belt of Taiwan by constructing a shear strength profile from a vertical stratified rheological structure. The stratified rheological structure is estimated based on the recently developed thermal structure and its likely composition. Subduction-collision in the young orogenic belts and the thick accretionary wedge make a significant contribution to the growth of sialic crust in the hinterland. The sialic bulk crust not only results in a low seismic velocity but also produces weak crust in the hinterland. The earthquake depth-frequency distribution in the foreland and hinterland correlates very well with the regimes of the brittle/ductile transition revealed in the strength profile. Our results show that the observed two-layer seismicity in the foreland is due to a moderate geotherm and an intermediate mafic bulk composition; while single-layer seismicity in the hinterland is due to its felsic bulk composition. In the foreland, the mechanically strong crust (MSC) and the mechanically strong lithosphere (MSL) coincide with frequent seismicity. The shallow MSC in the hinterland is consistent with the 20- to 25-km seismicity occurring there. The total lithospheric integrated strength (LIS) in the hinterland is only about half of that in the foreland, suggesting a weak lower crust and lithosphere mantle in the hinterland. The results confirm that the earthquake cutoff depth is a proxy for temperature. The calculated decrease of effective elastic thickness (EET) from the orogenic margin (foreland) to the center (hinterland) is consistent with the results of flexure modeling in most orogenic belts. Due to the weak LIS in the hinterland, crustal thinning and rifting may occur in the future. Our results, thus, suggest that the mechanical structure is also closely related to the composition and is not directly reflected in the thermal structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-31
Number of pages11
Issue number1-4 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - 13 Sep 2004


  • Composition
  • Rheology
  • Seismicity
  • Strength profile
  • Thermo-mechanical


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