Shallow Crustal Thermal Structures of Central Taiwan Foothills Region

  • Author(s): Shao-Kai Wu, Wu-Cheng Chi, Shih-Meng Hsu, Chien-Chung Ke, and Yunshuen Wang
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2013.03.13.01(T)
  • Keywords: Crustal thermal structures, Heat flow, Geothermal gradients, Frictional effects

Crustal thermal structures are closely related to metamorphism, rock rheology, exhumation processes, hydrocarbon maturation levels, frictional faulting and other processes. Drilling is the most direct way to access the temperature fields in the shallow crust. However, a regional drilling program for geological investigation is usually very expensive. Recently, a large-scale in-situ investigation program in the Western Foothills of Central Taiwan was carried out, providing a rare opportunity to conduct heat flow measurements in this region where there are debates as to whether previous measured heat flows are representative of the thermal state in this region. We successfully collected 28 geothermal gradients from these wells and converted them into heat flows. The new heat flow dataset is consistent with previous heat flows, which shows that the thermal structures of Central Taiwan are different from that of other subduction accretionary prisms. We then combine all the available heat flow information to analyze the frictional parameters of the Chelungpu fault zone that ruptured during the 1999, Chi-Chi, Taiwan, earthquake. The heat flow dataset gave consistent results compared with the frictional parameters derived from another independent study that used cores recovered from the Chelungpu fault zone at depth. This study also shows that it is suitable for using heat-flow data obtained from shallow subsurface to constrain thrusting faulting parameters, similar to what had been done for the strike-slip San Andreas Fault in California. Additional fieldworks are planned to study heat flows in other mountainous regions of Taiwan for more advanced geodynamic modeling efforts.

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