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Earthquakes & Cyclones

January 17, 2012

Bad storms in Taiwan and Haiti may have contributed to earthquakes there.



Do some storms spark earthquakes?  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

As if tropical cyclones weren’t destructive enough on their own, they may also set the stage for big earthquakes.  This according to University of Miami geophysicist  Shimon Wdowinski.  He got suspicious after the devastating Haiti earthquake of 2010.  Two years earlier, four severe storms had battered Haiti within 25 days. 

SHIMON WDOWINSKI (University of Miami):

It was only one example, so I looked for other examples, and I found them in Taiwan. 

Taiwan’s records were much more thorough.  Wdowinski’s team found that over the last half century, Taiwan’s worst typhoons have been followed by major earthquakes within four years.  His theory is that the heavy rains wash away huge amounts of soil that weighed on the area’s faults.  For the type of fault found in Haiti and Taiwan, that makes it easier to release stress in the form of an earthquake.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.