Tue, Aug 04, 2009 - Page 2 News List

FEATURE: CWB looking for quake precursors

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? A prediction theory that is effective for one area may not be applicable to other places because of different geological structures

By Deborah Kuo  /  CNA, WITH STAFF WRITER

It has also dug a deep well in Hualien, hoping that variations in the underground water levels in the 300m well will tell when and how earthquakes occur.

So far, they have failed to obtain effective evidence provided by the well to prove that variations in underground water levels have direct or definite relationships to earthquakes, Shin said.

The bureau often receives telephone calls from people who claim to have a talent for forecasting earthquakes, Shin said, such as the man who claimed he develops tinnitus before a major quake. Quantitative verification, however, has shown most of the predictions were wrong.

Many people have also shown great interest in animal precursors, Shin said, but no government in the world has yet conducted serious research on the relationship between animal behavior and earthquakes.

The bureau is not the only agency in Taiwan conducting research on earthquake precursors.

Academia Sinica’s Institute of Earth Sciences has established eight earthquake monitoring stations around the country since 1988 aimed at discerning the relationship between major quakes and geomagnetic fluctuations, Shin said.

They have not been able to determine the reasons behind geomagnetic fluctuations and their physical mechanism, he said.

Local universities, including National Taiwan Central University and National Taiwan University, are studying the possibility of short-term earthquake prediction on the basis of electromagnetic field variations under, on, or over the Earth’s surface and near space, he said.

“Despite being an uphill battle, earthquake prediction research must go on,” Shin said.

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