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No evidence to suggest higher number of strong quakes in 2018: CWB

2017/11/23 18:55:08

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Taipei, Nov. 23 (CNA) There is no evidence to indicate that the number of strong earthquakes across the world will increase significantly next year, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said Thursday, countering a prediction by seismic experts in the United States.

"There has not been any concrete pattern so far to which we can refer to predict the number of earthquakes in the future," said Lin Tzu-wei (林祖慰), a section chief at the bureau's Seismology Center.

Roger Bilham, professor emeritus at the University of Colorado in Boulder, told the British media earlier this month that there will be a significant surge in the number of severe earthquakes next year.

"So far we have only had about six severe earthquakes," Bilham was quoted as saying. "We could easily have 20 a year starting 2018."

Bilham and Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana in Missoula recently presented a joint study on the link between Earth's rotation and seismic activity, at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

According to their research findings, there had been periods of around five years when Earth's rotation slowed slightly over the past 150 years, which were followed by periods of an increase in the number of intense earthquakes.

Lin said, however, that while there has been research on the correlation between earthquakes and Earth's rotation, it is just one of many variables that scientists use to study earthquakes.

He agreed though that the number of major earthquakes across the world so far this year has been fewer than the average in recent years.

So far, there have been seven temblors with a magnitude of at least 7.0 on the Richter scale, while the average number per year of that magnitude or greater over the past 20 years has been 15, he noted.

In Taiwan, there has been only one major earthquake this year, magnitude 6.0, which is below the average three per year, according to CWB data.

There were 18 earthquakes of between magnitude of 5.0 and 6.0 in the same period, compared with an average of 22 per year in Taiwan, the data showed.

On Wednesday night, a magnitude-5.5 earthquake struck Chiayi, and Lin cautioned that there will likely be aftershocks of magnitude of 4.0 or greater in the next two weeks.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)