Fault structure control on fault slip and ground motion during the 1999 rupture of the Chelungpu fault, Taiwan

Richard Heermance, Zoe K. Shipton, James P. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


The Chelungpu fault, Taiwan, ruptured in a Mw 7.6 earthquake on 21 September 1999, producing a 90-km-long surface rupture. Analysis of core from two holes drilled through the fault zone, combined with geologic mapping and detailed investigation from three outcrops, define the fault geometry and physical properties of the Chelungpu fault in its northern and southern regions. In the northern region the fault dips 45°–60° east, parallel to bedding in both the hanging wall and footwall, and consists of a narrow (1–20 cm) core of dark gray, sheared clay gouge. The gouge is located at the base of a 30- to 50-m zone of increased fracture density confined asymmetrically to the hanging wall. Microstructural analysis of the fault gouge indicates the presence of extremely narrow clay zones (50–300 μm thick) that are interpreted as the fault rupture surfaces. Few shear indicators are observed outside of the fault gouge, implying that slip was localized within the gouge zone. Slip localization along a bed-parallel surface resulted in a narrow gouge zone that produced less high-frequency ground motion and larger displacements (average 8 m) during the earthquake than in the southern region. Displacement in the southern region averaged only 2 m, but ground shaking consisted of large amounts of high-frequency ground motion. The fault in the southern region dips 20°–30° at the surface and consists of a wide (20–70 m thick) zone of sheared, foliated shale with numerous gouge zones. These data demonstrate a potential correlation between fault structure (i.e., gouge width, geometry) and earthquake characteristics such as displacement and ground motion (i.e., acceleration).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1034-1050
Number of pages17
JournalBulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • clay
  • earthquakes
  • frequencies
  • seismology


Dive into the research topics of 'Fault structure control on fault slip and ground motion during the 1999 rupture of the Chelungpu fault, Taiwan'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this