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Doomsday panic in Taiwan: Could earthquake magnitude 14 and 170m high tsunami wave hit Taiwan?!

could-earthquake-magnitude-14-and-170m-high-tsunami-wave-hit-taiwan

The man, identifying himself as Teacher Wang, said Taiwan would be struck by a magnitude-14 earthquake and 170m (560ft) high tsunami on 11 May. More than 100 cargo containers have been bought and set up in a mountainous area of central Taiwan.

Police said they were investigating if he had conspired with a container business to defraud people. “Teacher Wang” suggested people live in such containers to survive the disaster, which he said would kill millions of people and split the island in half. Taiwan’s famous Taipei 101 skyscraper and the Presidential Office building would be toppled, he warned. More than 100 cargo containers have been discovered in the town of Puli, Nantou county.

Taiwan is in a quake zone. In 1999 a 7.6-magnitude tremor killed more than 2,400 people and damaged 50,000 buildings. But Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau says there is no basis for the doomsday prediction, since a magnitude-14 tremor is unheard of, and quakes cannot be reliably predicted. Officials say Japan’s recent devastating quake and tsunami may have led fraudsters to exploit people’s fears. The authorities have removed his doomsday warnings from the internet. (BBC)

The bureau said the individual, known as “Teacher Wang” (王), had written on his blog that based on his reading of the Chinese classic I Ching (易經) — also known as the Book of Changes — the super earthquake would hit at 10:42:37am on May 11.

As far as earthquakes are concerned, here is a list of large earthquakes and casualties over the last 101 years in Taiwan:

  • 1906 03 16 – Chia-i, Taiwan – M 6.8 Fatalities 1,250
  • 1910 04 12 – Taiwan region – M 7.6
  • 1920 06 05 – Taiwan region – M 8.0 Fatalities 5
  • 1935 04 20 – Taiwan (Formosa) – M 7.1 Fatalities 3,270
  • 1935 07 16 – Taiwan (Formosa) – M 6.5 Fatalities 2,740
  • 1959 04 26 – Taiwan region – M 7.5 Fatalities 2
  • 1972 01 25 – Taiwain region – M 7.5 Fatalities 1
  • 1972 01 25 – Taiwain region – M 7.0
  • 1972 04 24 – Taiwain region – M 7.2 Fatalities 4
  • 1998 05 03 – Southeast of Taiwan – M 7.5
  • 1999 09 20 – Taiwan – M 7.6 Fatalities 2,400
  • 2002 03 31 – Taiwan region – M 7.1 Fatalities 5
  • 2002 05 15 – Taiwan – M 6.2 Fatalities 1
  • 2003 12 10 – Taiwan – M 6.8
  • 2004 10 15 – Taiwan Region – M 6.7
  • 2004 11 08 – Taiwan Region – M 6.3
  • 2006 12 26 – Taiwan Region – M 7.1 Fatalities 2
  • 2006 12 26 – Taiwan Region – M 6.9
  • 2007 09 06 – Taiwan Region – M 6.2

1935 was a very bad year with two large earthquakes claiming more than 6000 lives! The last really big one was just before I came to Taiwan. It was in 1999 and claimed 2400 lives. In my first few years on the island I lived in a ground floor apartment and hardly felt anything. The last two years I’ve been on the 6th floor, and that little bit of height makes a big difference. I’ve experienced perhaps five earthquakes that I could really feel, and several smaller ones with hardly any effect. This image gives an indication of the seismicity of Taiwan between 1990 and 2000 and includes all earthquake activity, large and small:

 

To be sure, Taiwan is a very active seismic area, but really big quakes that cause a lot of damage aren’t all that frequent. But for a guy who grew up on the Highveld of South Africa, it is a relatively scary prospect. Taiwanese, however, just seem to get on with it as if nothing out of the ordinary ever happens. It’s your basic frog and the hot water scenario. Live with something long enough, or grow up with something and people tend to find it normal or unworthy of much attention. (bismarckintainan)

CWB Earthquake Report

 

Taiwan – Earthquake island

 

 

The lithospheric structure of the Taiwan collision belt

Plate tectonic situation of Taiwan, first version of schematic block-diagram showing the lithospheric structure of Taiwan (asthenosphere left transparent, view from southeast to northwest). Source: ANGELIER J. (1986). – Geodynamics of the Eurasia-Philippine Sea Plate boundary: Preface. Tectonophysics, 125, n°1-3, p. IX-X, 1 fig.

Plate tectonic situation of Taiwan. Schematic block-diagram illustrating the lithospheric structure of Taiwan (the asthenosphere is left transparent ). View from southeast to northwest. Modified after Angelier (1986, see image above). Different colors indicate the major units and tectonic boundaries. Source: ANGELIER J., LEE, J.C., CHU, H.-T., HU, J.-C., LU, C.-Y., CHAN, Y.-C., LIN, T.-J., FONT, Y., DEFFONTAINES B. et TSAI, Y.-B. (2001). – Le séisme de Chichi (1999) et sa place dans l’orogène de Taiwan. C. R. Acad. Sci. Paris, série IIa, Earth Planet. Sci., 333, 1, p. 5-21, 7 fig.

The regional stress indicated by inversion of the Chichi earthquake sequence. Focal mechanisms of the aftershock sequence shown as usual “beachball” stereoplots (epicentres as green dots). Surface rupture as red line. The red arrows indicate the trend of maximum principal stress indicated by program INVGLI (Tector software, 2000 series). Compare with the plate convergence direction shown as yellow arrow (Philippine Sea Plate relative to South China). Source: ANGELIER J.  (2002) – Inversion of earthquake focal mechanisms to obtain the seismotectonic stress IV- a new method free of choice among nodal planes. Geophys. J. International, 150, 3, p. 588-609, 12 fig., 3 tabl.

Plio-Quaternary change in paleostress trajectories related to the Taiwan collision, based on stress inversions of tectonic data using Tector. (Jacques Angelier)

Source: ANGELIER J., BARRIER E. and CHU H.-T. (1986). – Plate collision and paleostress trajectories in a fold-thrust belt: the Foothills of Taiwan. Tectonophysics, 125, n°1-3, p. 161-178, 5 fig.

 

 

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19 Comments

  1. Yeah, a magnitude that size is actually many times stronger than a 9. I dont have the info in front of me, but magnitude ratings/scales are measured by strength and depth. The deeper it is, the stronger it will be, even if it is only a 6. A 6 mag at 5 miles in depth is stronger than a 7 at 2 miles depth. Maybe The Watchers can do an article on the Richter Scale (which is one that is used). 🙂

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