Abstract

The general features of the rupture of the 1999 Chi-Chi, Taiwan, earthquake (Ms 7.6) can be explained by the displacement waveforms derived from the accelerograms recorded at short distances from the fault traces. Applying Brune's model, we have determined important source parameters, such as rise time, stress drop, offset, and particle velocity. Generally, the earthquake is characterized as having had two distinct fault segments. The southern segment, dominated by thrust motion, started from the focus on a fault plane raking at 78° and extended about 30 km to the north. The northern segment, dominated by thrust with significant strike-slip motion, began next to the end of the southern segment on a fault plane raking at 53° and extended northward for 25 km. Slips in the southern segment were followed by a small dislocation (∼1 m), while those in the northern segment were followed by a much larger dislocation (∼9 m). The average slip velocity was distributed at 34-49 cm/sec, along the southern segment, and an unusual slip velocity exceeding 2 m/sec was observed along the northern segment. Furthermore, the southern segment experienced a rise time of 1.8 sec and a stress drop of 65 bars, in contrast to a rise time longer than 4 sec and a stress drop larger than 300 bars registered to the north. Our results also indicate that, along the southern segment, the rupture propagated northward at an average velocity of 2.84 km/sec, but along the northern segment, the rate declined to less than 2 km/sec. The difference in the source parameters between these two segments suggests that the rupturing associated with the Chi-Chi earthquake may have encountered a resistive patch and changed course in the middle part of the fault. After crushing that resistance, the long rise time and high stress drop probably caused substantially slower motion and larger slip along the northern segment.

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