April 24, 2024

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Terrible earthquake in Taiwan: Here's why buildings are tilting and collapsing

Terrible earthquake in Taiwan: Here's why buildings are tilting and collapsing

Resistant to vibrations, many buildings in Taiwan lean, but still remain intact. An earthquake greater than 7 on the Richter scale It hit the island on Wednesday, a situation mainly due to the presence of water on land.

• Read more: “It was terrifying”: A Quebec couple's short-lived escape in Taiwan

Soil liquefaction can play a role in this phenomenon as buildings tilt and tilt, as occurred during the February 2023 earthquake that struck Turkey.

“Like water, the ground liquefies, and buildings sag like the Tower of Pisa at that moment,” explained seismologist Florent Brengier of the Institute of Geosciences at the University of Grenoble. .

The seismologist explained that even though the buildings didn't end up falling apart, that didn't mean they could be saved and straightened.


“All these buildings are going to be demolished and we can no longer house people,” he said.

For Maurice LaMontagne, associate professor of geosciences at Carleton University, the main weakness of Taiwanese buildings is in the first floors, which led to the deaths of more than 2,000 people during the 1999 7.6-magnitude earthquake.

“They revealed that one of the weaknesses of buildings is the first level, which means that the upper floors are very hard, and you often have what we call soft level at the base, or there are fewer barriers to movement, which means that when you swing up, the foundation is weak, and this first level gives way,” The professor explained.

However, we will have to wait for the expertise of the engineers to know more in the coming weeks.

Associated with the earthquake in Japan

Nine people were killed and 900 injured in the strongest earthquake to hit the island in 25 years, an initial report said. This earthquake is related to the January 1st earthquake in Japan.

“They're connected by a whole zone of plates that crosses this whole zone of the western Pacific, which is the most active zone in Taiwan,” said Mr. Brenguier noted.


Less damage than Türkiye

According to Professor Lamontagne, the main difference between the earthquake that struck Taiwan on Wednesday and the one that struck Turkey in February 2023 is the length of the reactivated fault.

“Yesterday in Taiwan, luckily it was about 35 km below the surface, but it's still a fault that's sixty km long and forty deep, and then a lot of energy is released,” he continued.

The earthquake in Taiwan registered a magnitude of 7.4, while Turkey recorded a magnitude of 7.8.