Phivolcs to strengthen earthquake early warning system

MANILA, Feb. 25 (PNA) — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has installed about 100 earthquake intensity meters to strengthen the earthquake early warning system in the country.

According to Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr., the system would locate where the earthquake is and warn the areas that will receive the second wave but the earthquake early warning may not be applied to all areas.

“The earthquake early warning would need that particular community or facility to have a certain distance from the epicenter so that there is sufficient time,” Solidum said during the Preparatory Meeting for Reslience Conference on Earthquake sponsored by the Romulo Foundation for Peance and Development held in Makati City.

At present, the Phivolcs chief said the agency is planning to add 200 more earthquake intensity meters with a vision of reaching a total of 300 nationwide by the end of 2016 or 2017.

Solidum explained that the earthquake intensity monitoring system would let the agency know the intensity of the earthquake immediately after it strikes.

“The minimum requirement for damage to happen is intensity six. If you don’t know the intensity, you do not know where to send to without the report from the community,” the Phivolcs director said.

Solidum added that the intensity meters will be used for early response and the data garnered will be used for possible early warnings for certain areas.

“Right now, we have 75 earthquake monitoring stations in the Philippines. By next year, the 30 remaining will be via satellite. So all will be via satellite and this is preparing for the possible evolution of an earthquake early warning,” he said.

Meanwhile, Phivolcs planned to put up a communication warning which would involve the use of digital television where earthquake early warning may be received like in Japan where they made use of digital broadcasting system to inform the public.

Solidum said that Phivolcs has provided sensors around Metro Manila to monitor the Valley Fault through GPS where they could observe the movement of the ground but not the triggering of an earthquake.

Some of the primary concerns of the agency were the residential houses and low-rise to mid-rise buildings which would receive more potential damages.

“Some residential homes are non-engineered. These were built without the supervision of licensed engineers or architects and earthquake science would tell us that if the fault is nearby, the shaking is fast and it would shake the lighter buildings than heavier buildings. There are houses that are at risk,” Solidum stressed.

He advised schools (public and private), and families to devise evacuation plans that would detail possible route for evacuation.

“We made a module on earthquake evacuation plan for schools during drills. All you have to do is to change the schools into family,” he said. (PNA)