Active fault creep variations at Chihshang, Taiwan, revealed by creep meter monitoring, 1998–2001



[1] The daily creep meter data recorded at Chihshang in 1998–2001 are presented. The Chihshang creep meter experiment was set up across the Chihshang thrust fault, the most active segment of the Longitudinal Valley Fault, which is the present-day plate suture between the Eurasian and the Philippine Sea plates in eastern Taiwan. Near-continuous data recording at two sites revealed different surface fault motions yet similar annual shortening rates: 16.2 mm at the Tapo site (comprising two connected creep meters) and 15.0 mm at the Chinyuan site (three creep meters straddling parallel fault branches). Four of the five creep meters showed a seasonal variation, with the fault moving steadily during the rainy season from April to October, and remaining quiescent during the rest of the year. The only exception was recorded by the creep meter located on a mélange-composed hillslope, where local gravitational landsliding played an additional role other than tectonic faulting. Through comparison with daily precipitation data, we inferred that moderate rainfall suffices to trigger or facilitate slippage on the surface fault, during the transition period of the dry/wet season. During the observation period from 1998 to 2001, the subsurface seismicity exhibited clusters of microearthquakes on the Chihshang Fault at depths of 10–25 km. Recurrent earthquakes occurred regardless of whether the season was wet or dry, indicating that the stress relaxation associated with seismicity in the seismogenic zone did not transfer immediately up to the surface. The accumulated strain on the Chihshang Fault at shallow surface levels was released through creep during the wet season. In addition to these short-term seasonal variations, an apparent decrease in the annual slipping rate on the Chihshang Fault during the last few years deserves further investigation in order to mitigate against seismic hazard.