The Volcanic Earthquake Swarm of October 20, 2009 in the Tatun Area of Northern Taiwan


On October 20, 2009, a series of felt earthquakes with local magnitudes ranging from 2.8 - 3.2 occurred in the Tatun volcanic area off the northern tip of Taiwan. Although there was no damage caused by those earthquakes, many residents in the Taipei metropolitan area, particularly for people who live near the Yangminshan National Park, felt strong ground shaking. In order to know what the possible mechanisms were that generated those earthquakes, we carefully examined seismic data recorded by a dense seismic array in the Tatun volcanic area. During the period between October 18 and 22, 2009 we detected at least 202 micro-earthquakes. Most of the earthquakes were relocated using the double-difference method and were clustered in the shallow crust beneath the Dayoukeng area, which is the strongest fumarole in the Tatun volcanic area. Among these earthquakes, 72 focal mechanisms were determined by polarizing the first P-wave motion. Most earthquakes belonged to normal faulting. An extremely high b-value of 2.17 was obtained from those earthquakes. Based on the seismic variations in both the temporary and spatial distribution as well as an extremely high b-value, we conclude that the earthquake sequence on October 20, 2009 was a typically seismic swarm associated with possible active volcanism in the Tatun volcanic area.

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