A Caltech Library Service

Postseismic deformation following the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake, Taiwan: Implication for lower-crust rheology

Rousset, Baptiste and Barbot, Sylvain and Avouac, Jean-Philippe and Hsu, Ya-Ju (2012) Postseismic deformation following the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake, Taiwan: Implication for lower-crust rheology. Journal of Geophysical Research B, 117 (B12). Art. No. B12405. ISSN 0148-0227. doi:10.1029/2012JB009571.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


On 1999 September 21, the Mw 7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake ruptured a segment of the Chelungpu Fault, a frontal thrust fault of the Western Foothills of Taiwan. The stress perturbation induced by the rupture triggered a transient deformation across the island, which was well recorded by a wide network of continuously operating GPS stations. The analysis of more than ten years of these data reveals a heterogeneous pattern of postseismic displacements, with relaxation times varying by a factor of more than ten, and large cumulative displacements at great distances, in particular along the Longitudinal Valley in eastern Taiwan, where relaxation times are also longer. We show that while afterslip is the dominant relaxation process in the epicentral area, viscoelastic relaxation is needed to explain the pattern and time evolution of displacements at the larger scale. We model the spatiotemporal behavior of the transient deformation as the result of afterslip on the décollement that extends downdip of the Chelungpu thrust, and viscoelastic flow in the lower crust and in the mid-crust below the Central Range. We construct a model of deformation driven by coseismic stress change where afterslip and viscoelastic flow are fully coupled. The model is compatible with the shorter relaxation times observed in the near field, which are due to continued fault slip, and the longer characteristic relaxation times and the reversed polarity of vertical displacements observed east of the Central Range. Our preferred model shows a viscosity of 0.5–1 X 10^(19) Pa s at lower-crustal depths and 5 X 10^(17) Pa s in the mid-crust below the Central Range, between 10 and 30 km depth. The low-viscosity zone at mid-crustal depth below the Central Range coincides with a region of low seismicity where rapid advection of heat due to surface erosion coupled with underplating maintain high temperatures, estimated to be between 300°C and 600°C from the modeling of thermo-chronology and surface heat flow data.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Barbot, Sylvain0000-0003-4257-7409
Avouac, Jean-Philippe0000-0002-3060-8442
Additional Information:© 2012 American Geophysical Union. Received 26 June 2012; revised 18 October 2012; accepted 24 October 2012; published 15 December 2012. This project was supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through the Tectonics Observatory. We would like to thank reviewers Greg Houseman and Andrea Donnellan for their constructive criticism, which we found very helpful in improving the manuscript. We thank the GPS LAB of the Academia Sinica, Taipei for providing us with GPS time series and Jian-Cheng Lee for leading a rewarding field trip in Taiwan. This is Tectonic Observatory contribution 194.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory, Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Tectonics ObservatoryUNSPECIFIED
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Tectonics Observatory 194
Issue or Number:B12
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130110-142854128
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Rousset, B., S. Barbot, J.-P. Avouac, and Y.-J. Hsu (2012), Postseismic deformation following the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake, Taiwan: Implication for lower-crust rheology, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B12405, doi:10.1029/2012JB009571
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:36306
Deposited On:10 Jan 2013 22:56
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:21

Repository Staff Only: item control page