Earthquake Parameters Inferred from the Hoping River Pseudotachylyte, Taiwan
Abstract:Taiwan, one of the most seismically active areas in the world, repeatedly experiences violent earthquakes, such as the 1999 Mw 7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake, in highly populated areas. The main island of Taiwan lies in the convergent tectonic region between the Eurasian Plate and Philippine Sea Plate.
Fault pseudotachylytes form by frictional melting along the fault plane during large seismic slip events and therefore constitute earthquake fossils. The width of a pseudotachylyte generation vein is a crude proxy for earthquake magnitude. The attitude of oblique injection veins primarily reflects slip kinematics. Additional constraints on the seismic slip direction and slip sense can be obtained 1) from the principal axes of the magnetic fabric of generation veins and 2) from 3D tomographic analysis of vein geometry.
A new pseudotachylyte locality discovered along the Hoping River offers an unparalleled opportunity to learn more about the Plio-Pleistocene paleoseismology and seismic kinematics of northeastern Taiwan. Field work measured the orientations and relations of structural features yields a complex geometry of generation and injection veins. Pseudotachylytes were sampled for tomographic, magnetic fabric and scanning electron microscope analyses. An oriented block of pseudotachylyte was sliced then stitched into a 3-D tomographic model using the Image-J software image stack plug-in. Tomographic analysis shows pseudotachylyte veins originate from a single slip event at sample size. An average vein thickness ranges from 1 mm proximal to areas with abundant injection veins to 2 mm. The displacement calculated after Sibson’s 1975 method, displacement equals the square of vein thickness multiplied by 436 yields a range from 4.36 cm to 17.44 cm. The pseudotachylytes displacement typifies earthquakes less than magnitude 5. However, this crude estimate of displacement requires further discussion. Comparison of the calculated displacements by different methodology may further constrain the values. Improving the accuracy of parameters pertaining to depth, pressure and temperature conditions, faulting style and coseismic fluids will vastly affect these displacement values. Aspects of focal mechanism determination leads to a more comprehensive assessment of both prehistoric and modern seismic risk.