Two-dimensional co-seismic surface displacements field of the Chi-Chi earthquake inferred from SAR image matching

Jun Hu, Zhi Wei Li, Xiaoli Ding, Jian Jun Zhu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The Mw=7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake in Taiwan occurred in 1999 over the Chelungpu fault and caused a great surface rupture and severe damage. Differential Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (DInSAR) has been applied previously to study the co-seismic ground displacements. There have however been significant limitations in the studies. First, only one-dimensional displacements along the Line-of-Sight (LOS) direction have been measured. The large horizontal displacements along the Chelungpu fault are largely missing from the measurements as the fault is nearly perpendicular to the LOS direction. Second, due to severe signal decorrelation on the hangling wall of the fault, the displacements in that area are un-measurable by differential InSAR method. We estimate the co-seismic displacements in both the azimuth and range directions with the method of SAR amplitude image matching. GPS observations at the 10 GPS stations are used to correct for the orbital ramp in the amplitude matching and to create the two-dimensional (2D) co-seismic surface displacements field using the descending ERS-2 SAR image pair. The results show that the co-seismic displacements range from about -2.0 m to 0.7 m in the azimuth direction (with the positive direction pointing to the flight direction), with the footwall side of the fault moving mainly southwards and the hanging wall side northwards. The displacements in the LOS direction range from about -0.5 m to 1.0 m, with the largest displacement occuring in the northeastern part of the hanging wall (the positive direction points to the satellite from ground). Comparing the results from amplitude matching with those from DInSAR, we can see that while only a very small fraction of the LOS displacement has been recovered by the DInSAR mehtod, the azimuth displacements cannot be well detected with the DInSAR measurements as they are almost perpendicular to the LOS. Therefore, the amplitude matching method is obviously more advantageous than the DInSAR in studying the Chi-Chi earthquake. Another advantage of the method is that the displacement in the hanging wall of the fault that is un-measurable with DInSAR due to severe signal decorrelation can almost completely retrieved in this research. This makes the whole co-seismic displacements field clearly visible and the location of the rupture identifiable. Using displacements measured at 15 independent GPS stations for validation, we found that the RMS values of the differences between the two types of results were 6.9 cm and 5.7 cm respectively in the azimuth and the range directions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6484-6495
Number of pages12
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2008


  • Amplitude image match
  • Chi-Chi earthquake
  • Differential Synthetic Aperture Radar (DInSAR)
  • GPS
  • Two dimensional (2D) displacements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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