The Deep Electrical Structure of Southern Taiwan and Its Tectonic Implications

  • Author(s): Chih-Wen Chiang, Chien-Chih Chen, Martyn Unsworth, Edward Bertrand, Chow-Son Chen, Thong Duy Kieu, and Han-Lun Hsu
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2010.02.25.01(T)
  • Keywords: Electrical structure, Magnetotellurics, Arc-continent collision, Taiwan tectonics
  • Citation: Chiang, C. W., C. C. Chen, M. Unsworth, E. Bertrand, C. S. Chen, T. D. Kieu, and H. L. Hsu, 2010: The deep electrical structure of southern Taiwan and its tectonic implications. Terr. Atmos. Ocean. Sci., 21, 879-895, doi: 10.3319/TAO.2010.02.25.01(T)

The Taiwan orogen has formed as a result of the arc-continent collision between the Eurasian continental margin and the Luzon volcanic arc over the last 5 million years and is the type example of an arc-continent collision. The tectonic processes at work beneath Taiwan are still debated; the available data have been interpreted with both thin-skinned and lithospheric collision models. In 2004, the Taiwan Integrated Geodynamical Research (TAIGER) project began a systematic investigation of the crustal and upper mantle structure beneath Taiwan. TAIGER magnetotelluric (MT) data from central Taiwan favor a thick-skinned model for that region. The Taiwan orogen becomes younger to the south, so the earlier stages of collision were investigated with a 100-km-long MT profile in southern Taiwan at latitude of 23.3°N. Data were recorded at 15 MT sites and tensor decomposition and two-dimensional inversion were applied to the MT data. The shallow electrical resistivity structure is in good agreement with surface geology. The deeper structure shows a major conductor in the mid-crust that can be explained by fluid content of 0.4 - 1.4%. A similar feature was observed in central Taiwan, but with a higher fluid content. The conductor in southern Taiwan extends to lower crustal depths and is likely caused by fluids generated by metamorphic reactions in a thickened crust. Together the central and southern Taiwan MT profiles show a crustal root beneath the Central Range.

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