Abstract The present study is proposed to investigate geochemical variations of soil–gas composition in the vicinity of the geologic fault zone of Hsincheng in the Hsinchu area of Taiwan. Soil–gas surveys have been conducted across the Hsincheng fault, to look for the degassing pattern of this fault system. During the surveys, soil–gas samples were collected along traverses crossing the observed structures. The collected soil–gas samples were analysed for He, Rn, CO 2, CH 4, Ar, O 2 and N 2. The data analysis clearly reveals anomalous values along the fault. Before selecting a monitoring site, the occurrence of deeper gas emanation was investigated by the soil–gas surveys and followed by continuous monitoring of some selected sites with respect to tectonic activity to check the sensitivity of the sites. A site was selected for long term monitoring on the basis of coexistence of high concentration of helium, radon and carrier gases and sensitivity towards the tectonic activity in the region. A continuous monitoring station was established at Hsinchu National Industrial Science Park (HNISP) in October 2005. Preliminary results of the monitoring station have shown possible precursory signals for some earthquake events.