A review of recently active faults in Taiwan

Open-File Report 75-41




Six faults associated with five large earthquakes produced surface displacements ranging from 1 to 3 m in the period 1906 through 1951. Four of the ruptures occurred in the western coastal plain and foothills, and two occurred in the Longitudinal Valley of eastern Taiwan. Maps are included showing the locations and dimensions of the displacements. The published geological literature probably would not lead one to infer the existence of a fault along most of the 1906 rupture, except for descriptions of the rupture itself. Over most of its length the 1935 rupture on the Chihhu fault is parallel to but more than 0.5 km from nearby faults shown on geologic maps published in 1969 and 1971; only about 1.5 km of its 15 km length coincides with a mapped fault. The coastal plain part of the Tuntzuchio fault which ruptured in 1935 is apparently not revealed by landforms, and only suggested by other data. Part of the 1946 Hsinhua faulting coincides with a fault identified in the subsurface by seismic work but surface indications of the fault are obscure. The 1951 Meilun faulting occurred along a conspicuous pre-1951 scarp and the 1951 Yuli faulting occurred near or in line with pre-1951 scarps. More than 40 faults which, according to the published literature, have had Pleistocene or later movement are shown on a small-scale map. Most of these faults are in the densely-populated western part of Taiwan. The map and text calls attention to faults that may be active and therefore may be significant in planning important structures. Equivocal evidence suggestive of fault creep was found on the Yuli fault and the Hsinhua fault. Fault creep was not found at several places examined along the 1906 fault trace. Tectonic uplift has occurred in Taiwan in the last 10,000 years and application of eustatic sea level curves to published radiocarbon dates shows that the minimum rate of uplift is considerably different in different parts of the island. Incomplete data indicate that the rate is high near Hualien, where an uplift of at least 0.6 m and probably more than 1 m occurred in the 1951 earthquake, and near and south of the 1946 faulting. Sudden uplifts can have serious consequences for installations near the shore. Investigation of this process, study of recently active faults, and continuing study of seismicity are necessary parts of a practical earthquake-hazard reduction program.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
A review of recently active faults in Taiwan
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Version 1.1
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey,
43 p.