M5.9 Onshore Southern Taiwan: Little to No Damage


The magnitude 5.9 earthquake that occurred on February 26, in southern Taiwan is unlikely to have caused significant damage. Despite a moderate depth of about 20 km, the closest city of Taitung (40 km distant, population 110,000) experienced only moderate shaking of intensity V on the Modified Mercalli scale. However, light shaking intensity was felt throughout the island, even as far as Taipei, 250 km to the north.

Taiwan Shakemap - February 26, 2012

USGS ShakeMap: Taiwan - February 26, 2012
Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

This earthquake, primarily a thrust mechanism, appears to have occurred on the northernmost section of the Luzon subduction zone, just south of where it terminates and transitions into the Longitudinal Valley fault zone, a large and very active strike-slip fault.

A notable aspect of this earthquake is its slow (shallow-slope) attenuation – it was felt at longer distances than typically estimated by regional attenuation relations.

Taiwan Shakemap - February 26, 2012

Distance vs. Intensity Plot - February 26, 2012
Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

EQECAT model users are advised to use event 19503 as the best-match proxy for this earthquake, which is a very close match for location and magnitude, and whose depth is 15 km. Alternate proxy events include 19502, 19504, 19479, 19527, and 19528.

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