A catastrophic earthquake, namely the 921-earthquake, occurred with a magnitude of ML=7.3 in Taiwan on September 21, 1999, causing severe disaster. The evaluation of real-time air-quality data, obtained by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), revealed a staggering increase in ambient SO2 concentrations by more than one order of magnitude across the island several hours prior to the earthquake, particularly at background stations. The abrupt increase in SO2 concentrations likely resulted from seismic-triggered degassing instead of air pollution. An additional case of a large earthquake (ML=6.8), occurring on March 31, 2002, was examined to confirm our observations of significantly enhanced SO2 concentrations in ambient air prior to large earthquakes. The coincidence between large earthquakes and increases in trace gases during the pre-quake period (several hours) indicates the potential of employing air-quality monitoring data to forecast catastrophic earthquakes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Waste Management and Disposal