To help the nation respond faster to undersea earthquakes and tsunamis, the Central Weather Bureau said it would soon deploy more advanced monitoring equipment.
Kuo Kai-wen (郭鎧紋), director of the bureau’s seismology center, said the Marine Cable Hosted Observatory (MACHO) was designed to improve the bureau’s ability to detect and monitor earthquakes and tsunamis off the east coast.
The system will be implemented in two stages. First, a 45km cable will be laid from a land station in Toucheng (頭城), Yilan County, out to sea next year. The project will be launched after the birthday of the sea goddess Mazu (媽祖), he said.
“A magnitude 7.1 earthquake between Hsinchu and Taichung hit at 6am on April 21, 1935. About 3,500 people died and 50,000 houses collapsed or semi-collapsed,” Kuo said. “It was close to Mazu’s birthday and some people survived because they were out worshipping the goddess.”
The second stage of the project will double the cable’s length, Kuo said.
The seismometer, or pressure gauge, in the MACHO system will help detect earthquakes and tsunamis, the information being transmitted via the cable to the bureau. The bureau will then analyze the information and produce reports for relief agencies, the media and the public.
The bureau estimates that the project, scheduled for completion by 2014, will cost about NT$800 million (US$25 million). Once installation is finished, Kuo said the nation could gain an extra 10 or 20 seconds to respond to strong earthquakes centered off the northeast coast. It could also provide an extra 10 to 20 minutes to prepare for a tsunami.
Aside from the MACHO system, the bureau also plans to expand the installation of borehole seismometers on land, Kuo said, adding that six more could be built this year. By last year, the bureau had completed nine such seismometers, Kuo said.
“The seismometers have lowered interference from the ground and reduced the risk of incorrect analysis,” he said.
The bureau has reduced the time from when an earthquake occurs to when the computer system reports the information from 102 seconds in 1999 to 30 seconds last year.
Meanwhile, the bureau said intermittent showers were expected throughout Taiwan starting yesterday as Typhoon Malou moves northward in the Sea of Japan.
The typhoon was expected to reach a location 530km north-northwest of Okinawa by 2am today and to change direction, moving north, forecasters said.
Malou is not expected to hit Taiwan directly, but the accompanying cloud system will bring intermittent rain across the country in the coming week, the bureau said.
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