EGU23-14361, updated on 26 Feb 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Evidence of Synorogenic Extension in the Upper-Middle Crust in Central Taiwan  

Olivia Lozano Blanco1,2, Björn Lund3, Puy Ayarza2, Joaquina Álvarez-Marrón1, Dennis Brown1, and Yih-Min Wu4
Olivia Lozano Blanco et al.
  • 1Geosciences Barcelona, GEO3BCN - CSIC, Barcelona, Spain (
  • 2Department of Geology, University of Salamanca, Plaza de la Merced s/n, 37008, Salamanca, Spain
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Villavägen 16, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
  • 4Department of Earth Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

The active Taiwan mountain belt is located in a complex geodynamic setting that involves two subduction processes. To the northeast, the Philippine Sea Plate subducts northward beneath the Eurasian Plate at the Ryukyu Trench, while in the southwestern part, the Eurasian Plate subducts eastward under the Philippine Sea Plate, where it obliquely collides with the Luzon Volcanic Arc. The Taiwan thrust-and-fold belt is created as a result of this ongoing arc-continent collision. Regardless of the predominance of compression in the overall structure of the island, several studies have also reported normal faulting. This study aims to estimate the local and regional stress field using earthquake focal mechanism data to contribute to a better understanding of crustal deformation in the complex tectonic setting of Taiwan.

Manually clustered earthquake focal mechanisms are inverted to obtain an estimate of the principal stress (σ1, σ2, σ3) orientations and the stress ratio (σ12)/(σ13), from which the direction of the maximum horizontal stress (SH) is calculated. The initial data set contains 11,587 earthquake focal mechanisms compiled from several sources dating between 1990 and 2020. All deep earthquakes in the Ryukyu subduction zone were removed from the data set. The Chi-Chi 1999 and other major earthquakes and aftershocks were also removed as they may reflect a distorted stress field. After preprocessing, a database consisting of 8,510 events with focal depths between 1-144 km and magnitudes ML=0.7-5.9 was used in the inversion. Depth division was performed in a regular 7 km grid up to 28 km depth, all events deeper than 28 km being considered in the same layer.

Preliminary results show that, to the southwest, the notable clockwise rotation of SH from SW-NE to a W-E direction and a change in the fault type from strike-slip to reverse to the east coincides with the interaction between the ENE-striking reactivated inherited structures of the Eurasian continental margin and the NNE-striking thrust faults of the foreland thrust-and-fold belt. To the centre-east, results show normal faulting in the upper crust, which changes to reverse faulting with depth, suggesting that there is a stress transition at approximately 14 km. Beneath that depth, there is a general state of compression. Ongoing research aims at integrating these results with those of numerical modelling and with field data in an effort to understand the locus of deformation and the occurrence of extensional tectonics in compressional settings, here and in other mountains belts worldwide.

This research is part of project PGC2018-094227-B-I00 funded by the Spanish Research Agency of the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain. Olivia Lozano acknowledges funding from the same agency through contract PRE2019-091431. Funding from SERA European Union H2020 INFRAIA-2016-2017 Agreement, 170522 is also acknowledged.


How to cite: Lozano Blanco, O., Lund, B., Ayarza, P., Álvarez-Marrón, J., Brown, D., and Wu, Y.-M.: Evidence of Synorogenic Extension in the Upper-Middle Crust in Central Taiwan  , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14361,, 2023.