Indentation of the Philippine Sea plate by the Eurasia plate in Taiwan: Details from recent marine seismological experiments

Type Article
Date 2013-05
Language English
Author(s) Lallemand Serge1, Theunissen Thomas2, Schnurle Philippe3, Lee Chao-Shing4, Liu Char-Shine5, Font Yvonne6
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Montpellier 2, CNRS, F-34095 Montpellier 05, France.
2 : IRAP, Observ Midi Pyrenees, Toulouse, France.
3 : IFREMER, Plouzane, France.
4 : NTOU, Keelung, Taiwan.
5 : NTU, Inst Oceanog, Taipei, Taiwan.
6 : Univ Nice Sophia Antipolis, Inst Rech Dev, Observ Cote Azur, Geoazur, France.
Source Tectonophysics (0040-1951) (Elsevier Science Bv), 2013-05 , Vol. 594 , P. 60-79
DOI 10.1016/j.tecto.2013.03.020
WOS© Times Cited 20
Keyword(s) Arc-continent collision, Local tomography, Tear, subduction, Intra-oceanic slicing, Slab break-off
Abstract We analyze in this study a new set of marine data including 3D local tomography, 1992-2008 relocated earthquakes and two recent multichannel seismic lines to characterize the deformation style in the collision area offshore east Taiwan. We have mapped in detail the Mohos of the converging plates as well as the subduction interface with a resolution never reached before. We show that the sharp continental subduction of the Eurasia plate, beneath the middle part of the Central Range, indents the Philippine Sea plate (PSP) as attested by intra-oceanic slicing and incipient subduction of the PSP beneath the east coast of Taiwan. The westernmost part of the PSP slab is probably experiencing a beginning of break-off as attested by NW-trending en-echelon shear zones beneath the southern slope of the southern Ryukyu arc (SRA). These en-echelon shear zones have a sinistral component favored by the "collision-free" subduction of the PSP north of 24 degrees 30'N. The down-faulting of the subduction interface forms ramps along which earthquakes clusterize. Three M7 subduction earthquakes occurred offshore Suao city along these ramps with a recurrence interval of about 40 years: 1920 M(w)7.7, 1963 M(w)7.2 and 2002 M(w)7.1 events. The 1966 M(w)6.0-7.5 earthquakes sequence likely outlines a WNW-ESE left-lateral intra-slab shear zone. The SRA upper plate accommodates the complex geometry and deformation of the subducting PSP through seismic deformation. Shallow high velocities fringing the Luzon volcanic arc (LVA) beneath the Longitudinal Valley and north of the southernmost Ryukyu forearc basins are interpreted as relics of the LVA forearc basement squeezed in the collision zone. Based on the accommodation of a large part of the convergence through shortening within the PSP and the subsequent segmentation of the shallow subduction interface, we consider that the nucleation of a M-w >= 8 earthquake along the southernmost Ryukyu megathrust is unlikely.
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