Mon, Mar 14, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Central Weather Bureau preparing to install offshore earthquake observatory

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

The nation’s ability to more quickly receive notice of undersea earthquakes could be improved after the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) completes the installation of the Marine Cable Hosted Observatory (MACHO) in June this year, the bureau said.

The installation of the system is set to begin on Saturday, when a 45km cable will be laid from a land station in Toucheng (頭城), Yilan County, out to sea.

Lu Pei-ling (呂佩玲), deputy director of the bureau’s seismology center, said the observatory may not give earthquake warnings as fast as systems in Japan and Europe because their cables reach out hundreds of kilometers away from the coast.

“However, without taking this step, what we have on undersea earthquakes will always be zero,” Lu said.

The MACHO system is designed by NEC Corp, the bureau said, adding that the Tokyo-based electric company will be in charge of laying the cables on Saturday.

The bureau said that 70 percent of the nation’s earthquakes happen at the sea off the east coast. While more than 100 earthquake observatories have been built to detect temblors on land, the nation has none at sea to monitor earthquakes beneath the ocean floor, the bureau said.

The bureau added that the system would reduce the time needed to issue submarine earthquake reports by between 10 seconds and 12 seconds, and it would also enhance the accuracy of the report.

Meanwhile, it would help the nation establish a tsunami pre-warning system and monitor submarine volcanic movements near Guishan Island (龜山島), off the coast of Yilan County.

Taiwan is one of the few countries to be equipped with such a system, the bureau said.

According to the bureau, -Japan has laid eight submarine cables off the coast of its eastern territories and is building a new system titled “Dense Oceanfloor Network System for Earthquakes and Tsunamis.”

Both Canada and the US have built a similar system called -NEPTUNE on the west coast to monitor movements in the subduction zones and plates.

The EU is also launching a project that deploys approximately 5,000km of fiber optic submarine cables linking the undersea observatories to the land. Due to its limited budget, the bureau can only deploy the cables to a length of 45km.

Aside from the Toucheng station, Lu said the bureau is planning another undersea earthquake observatory off the coast of Chenggong (成功) in Taitung County.

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