The southern Sanyi Fault extends across a highly urbanized area in central-west Taiwan. It is within 1–2 km from and generally parallels the northern Chelungpu Fault, which last ruptured in 1999 (Mw = 7.6 Chi-Chi Earthquake) and caused about 2400 fatalities. Several questions thus arise: is the Sanyi Fault likewise active? what is its geometry and extent? and should it be zoned or otherwise designated to mitigate risk through restrictions on development or engineering design? We address these questions by mapping river-exposed outcrops, by interpreting nine, near-surface geophysical surveys (electrical resistivity tomography [ERT]), and by compiling and assessing existing shallow borehole data. Outcrops in the Dajia River show that the Sanyi Fault is mainly a low-angle thrust that juxtaposes poorly lithified sandstone over alluvial gravels. Fault branches are common both in the hanging wall and footwall. To the south, the fault is not marked by a break in topography and its trace has not been clearly mapped within the alluvial plain, in part motivating the current effort. Here the ERT surveys identify the hanging-wall sandstone by a relatively low resistivity of <100 Ωm, whereas the footwall conglomerates and alluvial gravels generally exceed ~300 Ωm and ~ 100 Ωm, respectively. Borehole data likewise constrain the extent and character of the Sanyi Fault, which we identify as extending across the eastern part of Fengyuan, a city with a population now exceeding 160,000. The fault system is clearly imaged in two of five surveyed sites, and we integrate these data with drilling data to map the Sanyi fault surface trace as a ~ 400 m wide zone in the city of Fengyuan. Compiling previously documented paleoseismic data at one site, the Sanyi Fault system likely slipped in the thousand-year range throughout the Holocene. The Sanyi Fault is therefore ‘active’ and warrants zoning or other forms of mitigation to minimize potential, seismically induced loss of life and property.
Ho, G. R., P. Y. Chang, J. C. Lee, J. C. Lewis, P. T. Chen and H. L. Hsu, (2020), Surface traces and related deformation structures of the southern Sanyi Fault, Taiwan, as deduced from field mapping, electrical-resistivity tomography, and shallow drilling, Engineering Geology 273