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Published April 30, 2005 | public
Journal Article

Tandem suturing and disarticulation of the Taiwan orogen revealed by its neotectonic elements


Taiwan's numerous active faults and folds demarcate distinct eastern and western neotectonic belts. The western belt results from the attachment and subsequent detachment of a sliver of continental lithosphere to the Eurasian continental margin. The eastern belt is the product of the same continental sliver docking with and then separating from the Luzon volcanic arc. Thus, the active Taiwan orogen is a tandem suturing and tandem disengagement of a volcanic arc and a continental sliver to and from the Eurasian continental margin. This progressive suturing and separation is a superb, living demonstration of the fundamental weakness of lithospheric sutures. Furthermore, this neotectonic architecture provides the basis for understanding the Taiwan's seismic sources.

Additional Information

© 2005 Elsevier B.V. Received 22 September 2004; revised 18 January 2005; accepted 19 January 2005. Editor: R.D. van der Hilst. Available online 24 March 2005. We are grateful for valuable discussions with J.-P. Avouac, O. Beyssac, W.-C. Chi, C.-Y. Lu, Y. Ota, C. Rubin, J. Saleeby, L.S. Teng, and B. Wernicke. Also, we have benefited from stimulating discussions with students of two field classes in Taiwan and a neotectonic seminar at National Taiwan University. We appreciate valuable comments and suggestions of three anonymous reviewers of the manuscript and a previous version. Our neotectonic mapping would have been impossible had C.-T. Lee and C.-S. Liu not made high-quality digital topography and bathymetry available to us. Our mapping was facilitated by J. Giberson, manager of the Caltech's GIS laboratory. Our project in Taiwan was initially supported by private funds of Caltech's Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences and later by NSF grant EAR- 0208505. This research was also supported in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. This is Caltech Tectonic Observatory Contribution #1.

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