This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Numerical Modeling of Crustal Deformation and Pore-Pressure Changes Associated with the 1999 Chi-Chi Earthquake, Taiwan




Dyer, Gregory

Type of Degree



Geology and Geography


A new 3D time-dependent pore-pressure diffusion model PFLOW is used to investigate the response of pore fluids to the crustal deformation generated by strong earthquakes in heterogeneous geologic media. Using a carefully calibrated finite fault-rupture model (Ma et al., 2005), the coseismic pore pressure changes and diffusion induced by volumetric strain were calculated for the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake (Mw = 7.6) in Taiwan. The Chi-Chi earthquake provides a unique opportunity to investigate the spatial and time dependent poroelastic response of near-field rocks and sediments because extensive field data of water level changes and crustal deformation are well documented and readily available. The integrated model provides a means to explore the various mechanisms responsible for hydrologic anomalies observed in Taiwan’s western foothills and the Choshui River alluvial plain. Of special interest is identifying which of the observed hydrologic changes can be explained by a coseismic strain hypothesis and whether the pore-pressure diffusion model can account for observed recovery (dissipation) rates of seismically induced water-level changes in the alluvial fan. Coupled strain-pore pressure modeling results show a strong correlation between areas of coseismic dilatational strain and water-level decline in regions where consolidated rocks are present in the foothills. However, in the Choshui River alluvial fan, water-level rises are observed in regions of dilatational strain, suggesting that other mechanisms, such as seismic shaking, compaction, or faulting-enhanced gravity flow may be responsible for hydrologic changes. Assuming pre-seismic hydraulic conductivity values, our modeling results also show that water-level recovery rates cannot be explained by simple diffusion processes, suggesting that seismic loading may have caused significant re-arrangement and compaction of sediments in the alluvial plain.