Shear concentration in a collision zone: kinematics of the Chihshang Fault as revealed by outcrop-scale quantification of active faulting, Longitudinal Valley, eastern Taiwan

 J. Angelier a,*, H.-T. Chu b , J.-C. Lee c

a Tectonique Quantitative, De´p. de Ge´otectonique and U.R.A. 1759, University P. and M. Curie, Boite 129, 4 pl. Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France

b Central Geological Survey, M.O.E.A., Taipei, Taiwan

c Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, P.O. Box 1-55, Nankang, Taipei, Taiwan


(Tectonophysics, 274, 117-144.)



Repeated measurements of active deformation were carried out at three sites along the active Chihshang Fault, a segment of the Longitudinal Valley Fault zone of eastern Taiwan (the present-day plate boundary between the Philippine Sea Plate and Eurasia). Reliable annual records of displacement along an active fault, were obtained based on detailed surveys of faulted concrete structures. Along the active Chihshang Fault striking N18ºE, we determined average motion vectors trending N37ºW with an average shortening of 2.2 cm/yr. Thus, the transverse component of motion related to westward thrusting is 1.8 cm/yr, whereas the left-lateral strike-slip component of motion is 1.3 cm/yr. The fault dips 39–45º to the east, so that the vertical displacement is 1.5–3 cm/yr and the actual oblique offset of the fault increases at a rate of 2.7–3.7 cm/yr. This is in good agreement with the results of regional geodetic and tectonic analyses in Taiwan, and consistent with the N54ºW trend of convergence between the northernmost Luzon Arc and South China revealed by GPS studies. Our study provides an example of extreme shear concentration in an oblique collision zone. At Chihshang, the whole horizontal shortening of the Longitudinal Valley Fault, 2.2 cm/yr on average, occurs across a single, narrow fault zone, so that the whole reverse slip (about 2.7–3.7 cm/yr depending on fault dip) was entirely recorded by walls 20–200 m long where faults are tightly localized. This active faulting accounts for more than one fourth (27%) of the total shortening between the Luzon Arc and South China recorded through GPS analyses. Further surveys should indicate whether the decreasing shortening velocity across the fault is significant (revealing increasing earthquake risk due to stress accumulation) or not (revealing continuing fault creep and ‘weak’ behaviour of the Chihshang Fault).