Probability estimates of seismic event occurrence compared to health hazards – Forecasting Taipei’s Earthquakes

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Danny Chi-Nam Fung1, Jui-pin Wang2, Shih-Hsin Chang3 and Su-chin Chang1, (1)University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong, (2)HKUST, Kowloon, Hong Kong, (3)National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
Using a revised statistical model built on past seismic probability models, the probability of different magnitude earthquakes occurring within variable timespans can be estimated. The revised model is based on Poisson distribution and includes the use of best-estimate values of the probability distribution of different magnitude earthquakes recurring from a fault from literature sources. Our study aims to apply this model to the Taipei metropolitan area with a population of 7 million, which lies in the Taipei Basin and is bounded by two normal faults: the Sanchaio and Taipei faults. The Sanchaio fault is suggested to be responsible for previous large magnitude earthquakes, such as the 1694 magnitude 7 earthquake in northwestern Taipei (Cheng et. al., 2010). Based on a magnitude 7 earthquake return period of 543 years, the model predicts the occurrence of a magnitude 7 earthquake within 20 years at 1.81%, within 79 years at 6.77% and within 300 years at 21.22%. These estimates increase significantly when considering a magnitude 6 earthquake; the chance of one occurring within the next 20 years is estimated to be 3.61%, 79 years at 13.54% and 300 years at 42.45%. The 79 year period represents the average lifespan of the Taiwan population. In contrast, based on data from 2013, the probability of Taiwan residents experiencing heart disease or malignant neoplasm is 11.5% and 29%. The inference of this study is that the calculated risk that the Taipei population is at from a potentially damaging magnitude 6 or greater earthquake occurring within their lifetime is just as great as of suffering from a heart attack or other health ailments.