Original Research Paper

Marine Geophysical Researches

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 239-251

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Seismic monitoring of western Pacific typhoons

  • Wu-Cheng ChiAffiliated withInstitute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica Email author 
  • , Wan-Jou ChenAffiliated withDepartment of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Saint Louis University
  • , Ban-Yuan KuoAffiliated withInstitute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica
  • , David DolencAffiliated withLarge Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota Duluth


Typhoons inflict large damage to societies, but are usually difficult to monitor in close proximity in real-time without expensive instruments. Here we study the possibility of using seismic waveforms on the seafloor and on land to monitor the turning of a far away or approaching typhoon. Up to 67% of the typhoons making landfall in Taiwan come from the eastern shore, so that we deployed broadband ocean-bottom seismometers (OBSs) offshore eastern Taiwan in 2006 to study ground motion in close proximity to a typhoon. Typhoons generate ocean waves, which generate pressure signals in the water column before being transmitted to the seafloor as seismic waves and recorded by the OBSs. The ground motions on the seafloor correlate with locally increased (ocean) wave heights and wave periods, suggesting that the ground motions are mostly induced by in situ or nearby pressure fields, as shown by coherence function analyses. When a typhoon turns and changes wave-wave interaction near the source region, a new set of en echelon patterns develops which can be observed by OBSs and land stations. Similar features occur when a typhoon crosses a landmass and re-enters the ocean. The energy level ratio between the single-frequency and double-frequency microseisms also changes abruptly when the typhoon turns. These features can potentially help near real-time early warning with little cost to complement other conventional typhoon early warning methods.


Typhoon Early warning Seismic method Microseisms Hurricane Cyclone