Mineral dept finds new active fault line

Mineral dept finds new active fault line

Predicted to produce a 6.7-magnitude quake within 50 years

Ban Chiang Luang in Wiang Haeng district of Chiang Mai province is home to the traditional ‘Poy Sang Long’ mass ordination of boys. A new active fault line has been identified in the northern district, and is predicted to produce a 6.7-magnitude quake within 50 years. (File photo)
Ban Chiang Luang in Wiang Haeng district of Chiang Mai province is home to the traditional ‘Poy Sang Long’ mass ordination of boys. A new active fault line has been identified in the northern district, and is predicted to produce a 6.7-magnitude quake within 50 years. (File photo)

The Department of Mineral Resources has announced the discovery of a new active seismic fault in Wiang Haeng district of Chiang Mai province, and named it the Wiang Haeng fault line.

Wiang Haeng is the 16th fault line identified in Thailand, and is projected to produce a series of earthquakes of a maximum 6.7 magnitude within the next 50 years, after being dormant for more than 2,000 years. 

Montri Luengingkasoot, the department's deputy chief, on Thursday told a news briefing that  Wiang Haeng was added to the department's list of active faults after a study found significant tectonic plate movement there.

He added that Thailand still has more active fault lines that have yet to be discovered.

The department's team surveyed the Wiang Haeng fault line last year, and found new evidence at a site close to the Thai-Myanmar border in Wiang Haeng district that there had been a 6.7 magnitude earthquake around 2,000 years ago. 

Thailand has 15 fault lines across 22 provinces. Scientists are particularly concerned about the Mae Chan fault line, which has the potential to produce a magnitude 7 earthquake in the near future. It is about 100 kilometres long and passes through Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces. 

Other areas under close watch are the Sri Sawat and Three Pagoda fault lines, which pass through the western region and are also close to the country's largest artificial water catchment, the Sringarind dam in Kanchanaburi province. 

Suwith Kosuwan, director of the department's Geohazards Division, said the Wiang Haeng fault is around 100 kilometres long and passes through Samoeng district in Chiang Mai.

She said the predicted 6.7 earthquake is regarded as strong and could produce damage similar to the Chiang Rai earthquake five years ago. 

On May 5, 2014, Chiang Rai's Mae Lao district was rocked by a 6.3 magnitude quake, which caused serious damage to basic infrastructure and residences. The department announced that it was a result of movement on the Mae Lao fault line, which is estimated to cause quakes up to 6.5 magnitude.

"We believe that the newly discovered fault will produce an earthquake with a maximum 6.7 magnitude within the next 50 years, which is very close to the level of Mae Lao," she said. 

The department on Thursday also issued landslide warnings for Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Tak Phitsanulok and Chanthaburi provinces due to heavy rainfall. They department is closely monitoring the situation. 

A recent landslide in Tha Song Yang district of Tak province, in which one person was killed and another is still missing, occurred in a remote location which the department does not regularly monitor, an official said.


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