Research Achievements  
Geophysicists Map Hidden Tectonics below the South China Sea

A joint study conducted by a pair of geophysicists from National Chiao Tung University and NTU reveals some heretofore hidden and unknown tectonic structures below the South China Sea. The study results were featured in the "Perspectives" section of the journal Science (October 2014). Prof. Chienway Hwang of NCTU's Department of Civil Engineering and Prof. Emmy Tsui-Yu Chang of NTU's Institute of Oceanography utilized modern satellite radar altimetry to construct gravitational models that enabled them to chart the underlying tectonic properties of the seafloor. Their study achieved a significantly greater accuracy than had been possible before via more traditional means of exploration, i.e., research vessel.

Using satellite radar altimetry to obtain marine gravity measurements and vertical gravity gradients, Prof. Hwang and Prof. Chang were able to draw a comprehensive map of the sea basin beneath the South China Sea. With the data, they constructed a global marine gravity model that identified the borders of the continental and oceanic tectonic plates beneath the sea as well as the central fault of the South China Sea basin. The team not only enhanced existing understandings of the seafloor, it also identified previously uncharted seamounts, while highlighting the importance of satellite-derived gravity models as one of the basic tools for the investigation of remote ocean basins.