From temblor: “Buildings collapse in coastal Taiwan M=6.4 quake”



February 6, 2018
David Jacobson

This picture shows the 270 Marshal Hotel, whose lower floors collapsed in today’s M=6.4 earthquake. (Photo from: KULAS_TW)

A second large earthquake in 2 days strikes Eastern Taiwan

Just before midnight local time, a M=6.4 earthquake struck Eastern Taiwan, toppling buildings, collapsing ground floors, and buckling streets. The quake, which comes just two days after a M=6.1 approximately 20 km to the southeast, occurred at a depth of 10 km and registered very strong shaking in the city of Hualien according to the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau. Hualien is home to over 100,000 people. Yesterday, when we wrote about the M=6.1 over the weekend, we pointed out that its location marks the intersection of the Longitudinal Valley Fault and the Ryukyu Trench. Because of this, the area is prone to experiencing large magnitude earthquakes, meaning this quake should not be considered surprising. Further, earthquakes at fault junctions and tips are slightly more likely to trigger still larger shocks than others.

This Google Earth image shows the location of today’s M=6.4 earthquake near the city of Hualien, which is home to over 100,000 people.

This picture shows a partially-collapsed building in the city of Hualien, on Taiwan’s eastern coast. The earthquake which caused this damage was a M=6.4 quake which struck just two days after a M=6.1 just 15 km to the southeast.

This picture from The Guardian shows a building which suffered at least a first story collapse in today’s M=6.4 earthquake north of Taiwan’s city of Hualien.

Based on early reports and pictures, there is significant damage in Hualien, at least two people are confirmed to have been killed, and over 200 people were injured, 27 of them seriously according to the New York Times. Additionally, NPR announced that seven buildings had collapsed and while people remain trapped beneath the collapsed buildings, the National Fire Agency announced that they had rescued 149 people trapped in the rubble. However, people remain trapped in a partially-collapsed hotel. The photos above show some of the major damage sustained in the earthquake.

The reported damage is higher than forecast by the USGS PAGER system, which anticipated less than $1 million in damage. This is likely due to an underestimation of the amount of shaking around Hualien. The ShakeMap produced by Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau can be seen below.

This figure shows the ShakeMap produced by Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau. In the city of Hualien, shaking reached Intensity Level 7.

A yet-larger earthquake could still occur

This Temblor map shows the location of the recent earthquake on Taiwan’s eastern coast. Both of the recent M=6+ quakes occurred at the northern tip of the Longitudinal Valley Fault, Taiwan’s longest and most active fault.

While the earthquake over the weekend was predominantly compressional in nature, today’s event was nearly pure strike-slip, according to both the USGS and GFZ-Potsdam. Because of this, today’s quake may have struck at the northern tip of the Longitudinal Valley Fault, which is known to have both compressional and left-lateral motion. As we said yesterday, 30% of all earthquakes in Taiwan occur on or near this fault. It also has the highest slip rate of all faults in Taiwan.

Domino Theory?

While the M=6.4 shock occurred offshore at the northern tip of the Longitudinal Valley Fault, several of its large aftershocks occurred 20 km (12 miles) to the south, beneath Hualien, also on or near the Longitudinal Valley Fault. So, there appears to be a seismic propagation of aftershocks along the Longitudinal Valley Fault. This raises concerns that these events themselves could be foreshocks to still larger earthquakes that could rupture south along Taiwan’s longest, and most active fault.

Today’s shock should not come as a surprise. The Taiwan Earthquake Model, a university, government, and industry consortium that uses the tools and libraries of the Global Earthquake Model (GEM Foundation), is shown below. The area around the recent earthquakes has one of the highest hazards in the entire country. Therefore, residents of Eastern Taiwan should be prepared for potentially larger, more damaging earthquakes, perhaps propagating to the south.

This figure shows the Taiwan Earthquake Model. What is evident in this figure is that the location of today’s earthquake is in a location of extremely high hazard. (Figure from Cheng et al)

References [sorry, no links]
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau
Taiwan Earthquake Model from, Thomas (Chin-Tung) Cheng et al., Disaster Prevention Technology Research Center, Sinotech Engineering Consultants, Inc. – Link
Kate Huihsuan Chen, Shinji Toda, and Ruey-Juin Rau, A leaping, triggered sequence along a segmented fault: The 1951 ML 7.3 Hualien-Taitung earthquake sequence in eastern Taiwan, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 113, B02304, doi:10.1029/2007JB005048, 2008
New York Times
The Guardian

See the full article here .

Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


Stem Education Coalition

You can help many citizen scientists in detecting earthquakes and getting the data to emergency services people in affected area.
QCN bloc

Quake-Catcher Network

The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).


BOINC WallPaper

The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
QCN Quake Catcher Network map

Earthquake country is beautiful and enticing

Almost everything we love about areas like the San Francisco bay area, the California Southland, Salt Lake City against the Wasatch range, Seattle on Puget Sound, and Portland, is brought to us by the faults. The faults have sculpted the ridges and valleys, and down-dropped the bays, and lifted the mountains which draw us to these western U.S. cities. So, we enjoy the fruits of the faults every day. That means we must learn to live with their occasional spoils: large but infrequent earthquakes. Becoming quake resilient is a small price to pay for living in such a great part of the world, and it is achievable at modest cost.

A personal solution to a global problem

Half of the world’s population lives near active faults, but most of us are unaware of this. You can learn if you are at risk and protect your home, land, and family.

Temblor enables everyone in the continental United States, and many parts of the world, to learn their seismic, landslide, tsunami, and flood hazard. We help you determine the best way to reduce the risk to your home with proactive solutions.

Earthquake maps, soil liquefaction, landslide zones, cost of earthquake damage

In our iPhone and Android and web app, Temblor estimates the likelihood of seismic shaking and home damage. We show how the damage and its costs can be decreased by buying or renting a seismically safe home or retrofitting an older home.

Please share Temblor with your friends and family to help them, and everyone, live well in earthquake country.

Temblor is free and ad-free, and is a 2017 recipient of a highly competitive Small Business Innovation Research (‘SBIR’) grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States


The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

The primary project partners include:

United States Geological Survey
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
California Geological Survey
California Institute of Technology
University of California Berkeley
University of Washington
University of Oregon
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

The Earthquake Threat

Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

Part of the Solution

Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

System Goal

The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

Current Status

The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.


The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

For More Information

Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach

Learn more about EEW Research

ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

ShakeAlert Implementation Plan