Walls Fall Down: Another day, another earthquake

On Sunday, Taiwan (Yilan, specifically) was hit by three earthquakes moments apart, the first was 6.5, the second was 5.4, and the third was 4.2There was some minor damage and road closures were reported, but thus far only one injury to a hiker no deaths.  That’s what happens when you build to withstand earthquakes.

Reuters posted a report on youtubeSomeone posted video from their home, which looked the same as I felt it.  USGS says it’s only 6.2, but that’s from 10,000km away.  I’m actually a little surprised the effects weren’t worse.  It has been raining incessantly for a week, and waterlogged soil could have easily turned to mudslides.  There was no earthquake when Typhoon Morakot caused massive landslides in 2009.

What surprised people was the sharpness of it (for lack of a better word).  Many quakes here are slow, rolling quakes, and they feel like a plate sliding across a table that’s being pulled left and right.  This one felt like the table was jerked once, and the plate fell to the floor and shattered.  A month ago, I had to replace my refrigerator.  The old one was 150cm tall, the new one is about 90cm.   And the new one almost tipped over.  Good thing I was home.

This was almost the anniversary of the last big quake I felt directly, a 6.4 on Hallowe’en 2013.



  1. lochaber says

    Living in the SF Bay Area, moved here from the East coast, and it’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve experienced anything much over a 4.0ish, and even those I only notice if they are really close, or if I’m on an upper story of a building.

    I don’t know if it holds up, but for me it feels like the short, sharp quakes are the closest, and the longer, rolling ones are further away.

    But, yeah, if buildings and infrastructure are built with earthquake safety in mind, it can make a significant difference.

    • says

      Surpringly not. Japan and the west coasts of North America and South America (esp. Chile) have long subduction zones well off the coastline. Taiwan’s is almost underneath (link below) meaning the water is too shallow to generate large waves.

      Even if a tsunami came from offshore, the effects would be minimal. Early detection systems would warn people, and plans already exist based on wave height. Also less than a million live on the east coast (the exposed part), and a mountain range runs the length of the island. The biggest danger is destruction of Keelung’s port facilities, which would mean shipping everything out of Taichung and Kaohsiung.