Typhoons Trigger Minor Tremors, Prevent Killer Quakes – Study

A joint research by Taiwan and the US, have noted that typhoons can trigger small earthquakes that help release seismic energy and prevent major quakes, the research was published in the British weekly science journal Nature.

“For a long time, no one thought there was any link between typhoons and earthquakes, but we found that there is a link,” said Liu Chiching, a researcher at Taipei’s Academia Sinica.

Taiwan is known to be prone by earthquakes and typhoons. In Liu’s study with his team, they have observed that from 2003 to 2007, 11 out of 20 slow quakes coincided with typhoons.

The tropical disturbance has originated from the northwest Pacific ocean. During typhoons, the atmospheric pressure on land is reduced, and at least in the case of seismically active zone in eastern Taiwan, this pressure change seems to be enough to “unclamp” a geological fault that is under strain and cause a fault failure.

As a result, its energy dissipates over several hours rather than a few seconds, as is the case of large earthquakes. The researchers concluded that the small quakes might, therefore act as a release valve that prevents catastrophic convulsions.
The research was centered on eastern Taiwan, which bears the brunt of typhoons, usually from the direction of the Philippines, and quakes that are mostly caused by the friction of the Eurasian plate and Philippine plate off Taiwan’s east coast.

Liu plans to extend the area of his research to the northern and southern part of Taiwan to accommodate more information and data regarding the link between typhoons and earthquakes.