Tectonics of the Taiwan Region

Tetsuzo Seno

Earthquake Research Institute, Unversity of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Jisin, 46, 461-477, 1994


Tectonics of the Taiwan region is reviewed. Relative plate motions so far obtained are described and rated. The most reliable solution gives 7.4 cm/yr Philippine Sea-Eurasian motion in the N50degW direction in central Taiwan. Plate boundary geometries and modes of plate consumption in the region are discussed on the basis of geophysical, geological and geomorphological data. The major thrust zones at the Western Foothills and the Longitudinal Valley constitute mechanical plate boundaries, but a considerable fraction of the relative plate motion is also consumed by the strike-slip faulting off the southeast coast of Taiwan.

The cause for the occurrence of the strike-slip faulting off the southeast coast of Taiwan is discussed based on the various models so far proposed. The bending of the Philippine Sea plate due to the subduction at the Ryukyu Trench and the collision in the Longitudinal Valley are similar to the tectonics of the Izu Peninsula region in Japan, and are the most likely cause for the strike-slip faulting.

The reconstruction of the motion and plate boundaries in the vicinity of Taiwan for the past 4-6 m.y. is reviewed. The Philippine Sea-Eurasian motion for the past 4 Ma is similar to the present one. The motion prior to 4 Ma may be more northward than present due to the absence of subduction at the Philippine Trench. The Luzon arc started to collide with the continental margin of S. E. China around 4 Ma.