Central Taiwan was struck by a Magnitude 6.0 Earthquake at a depth of 20.7 km, slightly after 10.00 am local time (slightly after 2.00 am GMT) on Wednesday 27 March 2013, according to the United States Geological Survey. This is a fairly severe quake, and is reported to have caused a temple wall to collapse in Nantou County in the central part of the island, killing a 71-year-old woman. Nineteen other people are known to have been injured, and a number of buildings damaged by the quake, which was felt across the island and shook buildings in the capitol, Taipei.
Damage to the facade of a building in Taichung Municipality, central Taiwan. Reuters.
Taiwan has a complex tectonic setting, lying on the boundary between the Eurasian and Philippine Plates, with the Eurasian Plate being subducted beneath the Philippine Plate in the South and the Philippine Plate being subducted beneath the Eurasian in the East. Subduction is not a smooth process even in simple settings, with plates typically sticking together as pressure from tectonic expansion elsewhere builds up, then suddenly breaking apart and shifting abruptly, causing Earthquakes. The more complex situation in Taiwan makes the country extremely Earthquake-prone, though it is well prepared for such events, often weathering quakes that would cause devastation elsewhere without serious problems. Occasional large events do still cause severe problems for Taiwan, however; a magnitude 7.6 quake killed over 2300 people there in 1999, leading the country to erect a museum as a memorial.
The tectonic setting beneath Taiwan. Caltech.
See also Earthquake in eastern Taiwan, Earthquake shakes south Taiwan, Mapping the subductioin zone beneath Taiwan, and Earthquakes on Sciency Thoughts YouTube.
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