Seismic Evidence of Ancient Westward Residual Slab Subduction Beneath Southern Taiwan

  The northeastern convergence of the Philippine Sea plate toward the Eurasian plate causes the major western Philippine Sea plate boundary to subduct toward the northwest or west directions. However, this phenomenon is not clearly observed along the plate boundary between Luzon and Taiwan. Careful examination of deep seismicity in the southern Taiwan area from the earthquake catalog reported by the Central Weather Bureau shows two seismic zones dipping toward the opposing directions. The first dips toward the east from the surface down to 150 km in depth, while the second dips westward at depths between 150 and 200 km. These two seismic zones are confirmed further by seismogram observation and modeling results generated by two deep faults in the southern Taiwan area. The eastward seismic zone clearly results from the Eurasia plate subduction along the Manila trench, while a small section of the westward seismic zone might likely be a residual slab from the ancient subducted Philippine Sea plate. Based on the subduction speed obtained from GPS observations and the subducted Eurasian plate geometry, we can further estimate the eastward Eurasian plate subduction started at least 3.35 million years ago. This result is roughly consistent with the volcanic ages (3 - 4 Ma) observed in the arc between Luzon and Taiwan.

Abstract

  The northeastern convergence of the Philippine Sea plate toward the Eurasian plate causes the major western Philippine Sea plate boundary to subduct toward the northwest or west directions. However, this phenomenon is not clearly observed along the plate boundary between Luzon and Taiwan. Careful examination of deep seismicity in the southern Taiwan area from the earthquake catalog reported by the Central Weather Bureau shows two seismic zones dipping toward the opposing directions. The first dips toward the east from the surface down to 150 km in depth, while the second dips westward at depths between 150 and 200 km. These two seismic zones are confirmed further by seismogram observation and modeling results generated by two deep faults in the southern Taiwan area. The eastward seismic zone clearly results from the Eurasia plate subduction along the Manila trench, while a small section of the westward seismic zone might likely be a residual slab from the ancient subducted Philippine Sea plate. Based on the subduction speed obtained from GPS observations and the subducted Eurasian plate geometry, we can further estimate the eastward Eurasian plate subduction started at least 3.35 million years ago. This result is roughly consistent with the volcanic ages (3 - 4 Ma) observed in the arc between Luzon and Taiwan.

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