Open Access

Geodetically observed surface displacements of the 1999 Chi-Chi, Taiwan, Earthquake

Earth, Planets and Space201452:BF03352252

DOI: 10.1186/BF03352252

Received: 18 February 2000

Accepted: 18 May 2000

Published: 6 June 2014


The 21 September 1999 Chi-Chi, Taiwan, earthquake of magnitude MW = 7.6 (ML = 7.3) severely deformed the Earth’s crust in the central Taiwan region. The earthquake created an 85-km-long surface rupture along the Chelungpu fault. The epicenter was located at 23.85°N, 120.81°E, near the southern end of the rupture zone. Three-dimensional displacements of 285 geodetic control stations were determined in this study from Global Positioning System (GPS) observations collected before and after the earthquake. The detailed surface displacement field shows that individual stations are vertically uplifted by up to 4 m and displaced horizontally by up to 9 m, with the largest displacement occurring near the northern end of the ruptured thrust fault. The azimuth of the surface displacement field is approximately parallel to the direction of tectonic convergence of the Eurasian and Philippine Sea plates. The maximum three-dimensional displacement of 9.9 m is among the largest fault movements ever measured for modern earthquakes.