Fault Coupling on a Creeping Thrust Fault: Joint Inversion Using Geodetic Data and Repeating Earthquakes

Wei Peng, Mathilde Radiguet, Erwan Pathier, Kate Huihsuan Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to the lack of recognized creep on dip-slip faults, the nature of fault creep and its role in the generation of large earthquakes is largely unexplored. The Chihshang fault in Taiwan serves as one of the best examples of a thrust creeping fault in the world, exhibiting a fast creep rate of 2–3 cm/year and the capability of producing magnitude six earthquakes. Land-based geodetic measurements are less sensitive to fault slip with depth, especially for the deeper portion of the seaward dipping fault. Taking advantage of slip rates inferred from repeating earthquake sequences (RESs) at greater depths (up to 30 km), we present a method that embeds RES-derived slip rates into the neighboring fault patch for geodetic data inversion. Using the geodetic and seismological data from 2007 to 2011, we achieve a higher resolution of inter-seismic slip rate distribution below a depth of 10 km. The inferred low coupling ratio establishes an extensive creeping area that coincides with a location of abundant RES and earthquake swarms. The inferred high coupling ratio, on the other hand, delineates a locked area corresponding to the two co-seismic slip zones of the 2003 Mw 6.8 Chengkung and 2022 Mw 6.7 Yuli earthquakes. The transition zone marking the gradual change from fully locked to shallow creeping areas appears to coincide with the post-seismic slip area of the 2003 Chengkung event. Using the fault coupling model, the moment rate deficit measured in the two locked areas is capable of generating a Mw 6.8 event every 78 years to the south and a Mw 6.7 event every 28 years to the north. This moment rate deficit is decreased by 10% when the closely located Central Range fault is considered in a two-fault model, leading to the slightly longer recurrence interval on the Chihshang fault. The two-fault model potentially contributes to a better understanding of the regional inter-seismic deformation, which is recommended to be adopted in the future studies of seismic hazard assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023JB026843
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Sept


  • aseismic slip
  • creeping fault
  • fault coupling
  • inter-seismic
  • kinematic modeling
  • repeating earthquake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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