921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan

Taiwanese and international newscasts reporting the deadly quake

At 1:47 in the early morning of September 21, 1999, Taiwan was struck by its most devastating earthquake in over a century. The massive 7.3 magnitude earthquake killed 2,415 persons, left 29 still missing, injured 11,305, completely destroyed 44,338 houses while severely damaging another 41,336, and caused NT$300 billion in property damages.

The 921 Earthquake occurred along the Chelungpu Fault [車籠埔斷層]. Taiwan’s western plains form the western edge of this fault, the western foothills mark the eastern edge of the fault. Some sections of the fault raised the land 7 meters [23 feet] as a result of the earthquake.

The 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan [921地震教育園區] is located at the site of the destroyed Guangfu Junior High School [光復國中] in Wufong Township [霧峰鄉]. The museum is an excellent visit for anyone interested in seismology or Taiwan’s history. There are plenty of interactive displays and most are in Chinese, English, and Japanese.

The Chelongpu Fault Preservation Hall contains models of tectonic plates and the earth’s internal structure. Below is a photograph from the hall showing damage from the earthquake to an area bridge:

Guangfu Junior High was selected as the site of this memorial museum because its track captured the fault movement:

Aerial photograph shortly after the earthquake

The track was elevated 2.5 meters [8.2 feet] as a result

The Earthquake Engineering Hall contains several interactive displays concerning earthquake resistance technology and public safety:

The model below shows how different vibration resistance technologies respond to earthquakes. The building with the ball hanging in it models an active mass damper, which is the system used in Taipei 101:

The preserved buildings at the museum use steal beams or acrylic walls like those pictured below to prevent further collapse:

Below are two pictures of the collapsed North Classroom Building. Had this earthquake occurred at a time when students were at school, several times more children would have perished because of the many schools that either completely or partially collapsed during the earthquake.

The museum also contains information on reconstruction efforts and revival of local communities. There is also a room which simulates the intensity of the 921 Earthquake.

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