Explained: Why is Taiwan so prone to earthquakes?

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New Delhi: The east of Taiwan has been rocked by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake on April 3. The epicentre of the earthquake was in the eastern county of Hualien, where four people have reportedly died so far. Over 50 people have been injured and a minimum of 26 buildings have collapsed. Due to the strong earthquake, both Taiwan and Japan have issued tsunami warnings. It is said to be the most powerful earthquake Taiwan has witnessed in the last 25 years. In this article, we will take a look at why Taiwan is so frequently jolted by earthquakes.

Why is Taiwan so prone to earthquakes?

Taiwan is not strange to earthquakes. Over the years, it has witnessed several massive earthquakes, some of which have proved to be particularly destructive. The reason why Taiwan is prone to earthquakes is its location.

The island is located on the western edge of the Pacific-rim earthquake belt. It is an extremely active tectonic region and registers some of the highest seismic activities in the world. Near Taiwan lies the Eurasian and Philippine Sea Plates. Also, due to its location in a subtropical climate region, it is also frequently affected by typhoons. Due to its topography, Taiwan faces several natural disasters like earthquakes, typhoons, floods, and landslides.

There are 42 active faults in Taiwan, but earthquakes occur mostly due to the convergence of the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate. It is located in a seismically active zone, on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and most earthquakes take place off the east coast and cause little damage. On the other hand, the smaller quakes beneath the island have been more destructive. In 1624, Taiwan recorded the first major earthquake and between 1901 and 2000, it witnessed 91 major earthquakes. It was rattled by a devastating earthquake in September 1999 which claimed 2,415 lives.

Hence, most of the buildings in Taiwan have been constructed as earthquake-resistant and the High Speed Rail system has an automatic safety device which stops all trains on their track when a significant earthquake is detected. Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau is enstrusted with the task of monitoring and reporting earthquakes. Also, the United States Geological Survey assess large earthquakes.

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