Quake study hub opens in Hualien

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Sep 25, 2013 - Page 4

The Eastern Taiwan Earthquake Research Center (E-TEC), a base for collecting real-time seismic data to provide earthquake warnings, was established yesterday at National Dong Hwa University (NDHU) in Hualien.

The E-TEC is a research facility that coordinates seismological data collected by the Central Weather Bureau, National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering, the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Central Geological Survey and academic institutes.

The E-TEC is comprised of the nation’s first earthquake precursors observatory, an early-warning facility and a disaster prevention education center.

National Science Council Deputy Minister Mou Chung-yuan (牟中原) said that previous seismic research mostly analyzed data collected after earthquakes occurred, but hopefully, E-TEC’s precursors observation subdivision can help researchers forecast earthquakes using information from seismological events as they occur.

Earthquake precursors are any abnormal phenomena that can signal the coming of an earthquake and its expected severity.

E-TEC director Chang Wen-yen (張文彥), an associate professor at the university’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, said that Hualien is an ideal location for the center because the nation’s position atop the junction where the Eurasian and Philippine Sea plates meet gives eastern Taiwan the highest frequency of earthquakes in the country.

A high number of tremors will maximize the amount and value of the data collected at the E-TEC, Chang said.

Ma Kuo-fong (馬國鳳), a professor at National Central University’s Department of Earth Sciences, said that Hualien was an ideal spot for the E-TEC since the ability to detect different precursors varies according to the location of the monitoring stations, so precursors may be undetectable in areas that are far from the seismic activity.

The E-TEC is equipped with stations to monitor a wide array of factors used by seismologists to detect quake precursors, including seismo-ionosphere variations, changes in geochemical gas, electromagnetic field readings and gamma-radiation levels.

Chang said that E-TEC researchers hope that the range of monitoring equipment will enable them to predict where and when the next big earthquake will strike Taiwan, as well as determine which precursors are the most accurate to develop reliable earthquake prediction models.