A team of researchers led by Academia Sinica academician Lin Cheng-horng (林正洪) has for the first time detected a volcanic vent in the Dayoukeng (大油坑) area of the Tatun Volcano Group (大屯火山群).
Lin and his team have long been monitoring volcanic activity in the Tatun group, Turtle Island (Gueishan Island, 龜山島) and submarine volcanoes near northern Taiwan.
Their research has shown that the Tatun group and Turtle Island are active volcanoes.
Photo courtesy of Lin Cheng-horng
In addition to detecting the volcanic vent, the team found that an earthquake occurs in the Tatun group every 18 minutes on average, and published its findings in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.
The team used the difference-in-differences method to observe the earthquakes, Lin said.
The team found that a 2km deep and 500m wide volcanic vent had formed under Dayoukeng, after nesting data collected through more than 1,000 seismic readings at the Tatun group from 2014 to 2017, he added.
The epicenters of the earthquakes were centered around the volcanic vent, Lin said.
A volcanic vent does not mean a hole actually exists within a volcano, but rather that fractured zones have given rise to the release of gas and the formation of a vent, he said.
In other countries, volcanic vents are typically detected after a volcano erupts, lava flow emerges and magma flows out of a vent, Lin said.
However, his team has found a vent formed by gas creating a path for magma, even though magma has yet to be detected, he said.
Although other eruption points cannot be ruled out, Lin said that if magma were to emerge to the surface, there is a strong possibility that it would do so through this vent.
Physical phenomena observed by his team also prove that the volcano group is active, he said.
Although there is no record of volcanic eruptions in Taiwan’s history, there are some areas with volcanic characteristics in the nation’s north, including the volcano group, Turtle Island and nearby submarine volcanoes, Lin said.
Qixingshan (七星山), the highest peak in the group, is less than 15km from Taipei 101, he said.
Geothermal activity on the mountain’s surface is obvious, and whether it could become active again is not only a scientific issue worth studying, but also concerns the safety of the greater Taipei area, he said.
Although observations confirm that the Tatun group and Turtle Island are active, there is no need for panic, Lin said.
Volcanic eruptions are not unpredictable like earthquakes, he said, adding that scientific instruments can be used to estimate the time, scale and location of eruptions.
Creating an effective mechanism to monitor volcanoes can help reduce panic and the threat of volcanic activity, he added.
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