Thursday, March 1, 2012

DOST-Phivolcs to install new strong motion sensors in Luzon, Mindanao

By Joy M. Lazcano, S&T Media Service

The Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-Phivolcs) will install new strong motion sensors to nearby provinces around Metro Manila and in Mindanao. The new gadgets will record high magnitude earthquakes to provide data for studies on the effects of earth movements on the soil quality, especially in the highly urbanized cities in Luzon.

Specifically, the 27 additional sensors measure and record large amplitude, high frequency seismic wave activities typical of local earthquakes with magnitude 3 and above.

The additional sensors will strengthen the earthquake monitoring capability of Phivolcs which is beefing up efforts in mitigating disaster risks especially in high vulnerability areas.

“Disaster mitigation is high on the agenda of DOST,” said Sec. Mario Montejo, “We  are embarking on a program that will ensure safer communities through S&T, and  the installation of strong motion sensors will play a part in it.”

According to DOST-Phivolcs, strong earth movements loosen up soil thus exposing affected areas to multiple hazards such as soil liquefaction, landslides, erosion and sinkholes.

Through the additional sensors, experts at Phivolcs will be able to determine the risks in affected areas and provide a timely recommendation in upgrading building codes to conform with the soil quality. Phivolcs will also be able to predict the patterns of strong shaking in future large earthquakes.

“Engineers will be guided on the limitations of their structural designs against the soil quality in a particular area.” said Phivolcs’ Melchor Lasala. Proper guidance will enable engineers to improve the structural designs of buildings and make these safer and sturdier.

Geohazards may not be presently apparent at the present but experts express that the risk is too great to be ignored.

“Our job is to provide vital information to local governments as well as private engineering firms and land developers on the possible hazards that may occur, and hopefully prevent it from happening,” explained Lasala.

Although the sensors measure “big event” ground movements, Lasala underlined that these instruments are not early warning systems. “These instruments are used more on recording and measuring the impact and magnitude of the earthquake in an area for further studies,” Lasala clarified.

He also added that Phivolcs will install 12 strong motion sensors in Davao City.  Just recently, the agency has installed a sensor in San Pablo City, a burgeoning city in the southern part of Laguna.

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