Reports suggest Taiwan could be hit by huge tsunami within next 100 years

Earthquakes in Manila Trench could cause tsunami of up to 5 meters in height, experts warn

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The Manila Trench lies 100 km off the southern shores of Taiwan (Image courtesy of Google Maps)

The Manila Trench lies 100 km off the southern shores of Taiwan (Image courtesy of Google Maps)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — According to reports, Taiwan could be hit by a huge tsunami within the next 100 years, due to the Manila Trench entering a new earthquake cycle.

Southeast Asia has already been hit by a series of devastating tsunamis this year, including the recent disaster in Indonesia which has caused over 1600 deaths.

Taiwan is not usually as affected by tsunamis as it is earthquakes and typhoons, but experts warn citizens not to lower their guards, as the new earthquake cycle of the Manila Trench has arrived with the potential for shocks of up to 8.0 magnitude.

Although earthquakes are frequent in Taiwan, there have been no recent large-scale tsunamis. The Central Weather Bureau does, however, hold an updated forecast and warning system in case one occurs.

Despite this, many citizens are unprepared for the event of a tsunami.

Associate professor at the Graduate Institute of Hydrological and Oceanic Sciences at National Central University, Wu Tso-Ren (吳祚任), explains that earthquakes of  9.0 magnitude erupt from the Manila Trench around every 700 years, with 8.5 magnitude earthquakes happening every 250 years and 8.0 magnitude earthquakes occurring every 100 years.

If an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or above occurs in the trench, which lies just 100 km off the shores of Taiwan, the tsunami produced would only take 15 minutes to reach the island. However, due to the topography of the land, a tsunami may only reach 500 meters to 1 km of inland Taiwan.

Although those living in the Southern parts of the country ought to be particularly careful, a tsunami could potentially hit any part of the island. Experts suggest citizens not be too complacent just because such an extreme disaster has not occurred on the island for a long time.

The National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction has compiled a map of potential flooding sites on their website, where citizens can check potential flooding depths in different counties and cities.

Assistant professor at National Taiwan University’s Department of Geosciences, Wang Yu (王昱) explains that, although the impact of tsunamis caused by earthquakes is often the most deadly, they can also be caused by seabed landslides and submarine volcanic eruptions.

Working with a team of scientists in Singapore, the professor has produced simulation results that suggest there is a 10 percent chance of a one to two-meter tsunami in the Chinese coastal area within the first 50 years of the current earthquake cycle. The results show there is also a 10 percent chance of a three-meter-or-higher tsunami hitting Kaohsiung within the first 50 years.

Experts stress, however, that these are simulation results and are yet to be verified.