26% of areas in Taipei prone to soil liquefaction: report

Slightly more than 26 percent of areas in Taipei have a medium to high vulnerability to soil liquefaction during a strong earthquake, according to a government database that went online Saturday.

The database located at soil2.taipei showed much of the highly vulnerable areas are in central parts of Taipei, including commercial and financial districts, whereas the mountainous areas of the city were shown as being safer.

The database was created by the Taipei City Government by integrating data collected from construction drilling projects and data compiled by the Central Geological Survey, with vulnerability assessment having been conducted at 3,060 locations, the city's Public Works Department said.

Because the existing data for 14.5 percent of areas in Taipei are not precise enough, the department said drilling will be conducted in these areas to improve their precision.

Soil liquefaction occurs when shaking during an earthquake causes saturated granular material to behave like a liquid, and soil liquefaction-prone areas are likely to suffer serious damage in a major earthquake.

Soil liquefaction has become an issue of public concern since it is believed to have been a factor in the collapse of a 17-story residential building in Tainan City and the death of 117 people when a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck southern Taiwan on Feb. 6.

According to the Public Works Department, soil liquefaction can happen when the intensity of an earthquake reaches a reading of 6 on Taiwan's 0-7 scale, which measures the degree to which the earth shakes at a particular location.

Since Dec. 29, 1999, the government has required new buildings to be designed in such a way that they are resistant to soil liquefaction, it said.s

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel