Near-surface versus fault zone damage following the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake: Observation and simulation of repeating earthquakes

Kate Huihsuan Chen*, Takashi Furumura, Justin Rubinstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We observe crustal damage and its subsequent recovery caused by the 1999 M7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake in central Taiwan. Analysis of repeating earthquakes in Hualien region, ∼70 km east of the Chi-Chi earthquake, shows a remarkable change in wave propagation beginning in the year 2000, revealing damage within the fault zone and distributed across the near surface. We use moving window cross correlation to identify a dramatic decrease in the waveform similarity and delays in the S wave coda. The maximum delay is up to 59 ms, corresponding to a 7.6% velocity decrease averaged over the wave propagation path. The waveform changes on either side of the fault are distinct. They occur in different parts of the waveforms, affect different frequencies, and the size of the velocity reductions is different. Using a finite difference method, we simulate the effect of postseismic changes in the wavefield by introducing S wave velocity anomaly in the fault zone and near the surface. The models that best fit the observations point to pervasive damage in the near surface and deep, along-fault damage at the time of the Chi-Chi earthquake. The footwall stations show the combined effect of near-surface and the fault zone damage, where the velocity reduction (2-7%) is twofold to threefold greater than the fault zone damage observed in the hanging wall stations. The physical models obtained here allow us to monitor the temporal evolution and recovering process of the Chi-Chi fault zone damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2426-2445
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Apr 1


  • Chi-Chi earthquake
  • fault zone damage
  • healing process
  • near-surface damage
  • postseismic change
  • repeating earthquakes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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