Identification of an active fault in the Japanese Alps from DEM-based hill shading

Takashi Oguchi, Tatsuto Aoki, Nobuhisa Matsuta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Shaded-relief images created from digital elevation models (DEMs) are helpful in identifying faults in rugged mountains. Unlike airphoto interpretation, the method enhances lineaments by simulating topographic illumination under varied light directions. Interpretation of shaded-relief images of the Japanese Alps led to the discovery of a lineament unrelated to bedrock structure. Field surveys and analysis of large-scale maps and airphotos reveal the lineament to be a fault with high rates of vertical and lateral slip. The new fault is the southernmost segment of a known adjacent fault, and the rate and direction of its slip provide fresh insight into the late Quaternary history of the fault system. Because previous research mistook the fault scarp for a fluvial terrace scarp, discovery of the fault also changed the correlation of river terraces in the Northern Japanese Alps. The new corrections affect Pleistocene glacial chronology in the upstream area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-891
Number of pages7
JournalComputers and Geosciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Japan
  • Light direction
  • Lineament
  • Shaded relief images
  • Surface displacement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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