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Taiwan set to launch public database of areas prone to quake damage

2016/03/13 21:18:56

(CNA file photo)

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) An online database will be launched Monday to allow the public to search for areas in parts of Taiwan that are prone to soil liquefaction and are therefore likely to suffer serious damage in a major earthquake.

The database covers Taipei City, New Taipei City, Yilan County, Hsinchu County, Hsinchu City, Tainan City, Kaohsiung City and Pintung County.

Soil liquefaction has become an issue of public concern since it is believed to have been a factor in the collapse of a building and the death of 117 people in a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that struck southern Taiwan on Feb. 6.

When the new database goes online, it will provide information on the risk of land subsidence due to soil liquefaction, and will issue color-coded alerts to the computers or smartphones of people who sign up to receive them, said Chiang Chung-jung (江崇榮), the head of the Central Geological Survey (CGS) in the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

In a short video clip that introduces the system, Chiang said soil liquefaction occurs when shaking during an earthquake causes saturated granular material to behave like a liquid.

Heavy structures sitting atop this material thus become very unstable and are likely to collapse, he said.

Compacted artificial fills and low lying areas in water saturated, loose, sandy soils are most susceptible to soil liquefaction, Chiang said. Since two-thirds of Taiwan is mountainous, however, that risk does not exist in most of the country, he said.

Meanwhile, the Taipei City Government has allocated NT$2.78 million to commission the Taiwan Construction Research Institute to devise detailed maps that would accurately pinpoint areas at risk of soil liquefaction in the city.

After the project is completed, the maps will be posted online in August.

(By Yiu Kai-hsiang and Evelyn Kao)