Airport project ‘safe’ despite Oct. 15 quake

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Friday, December 6, 2013


BOHOL Gov. Edgar Chatto assured his constituents last Wednesday that relevant studies have been conducted to ensure that the international airport project in Panglao Island is safe despite the Oct. 15 earthquake.

This, after a geological study found indications that part of Panglao Island, a major tourist destination, rose in the past several thousands of years.

Chatto said that before Oct. 15, studies were already made on the feasibility and safety of airport in Panglao.

“The Oct. 15 earthquake emphasized the need for safety,” he said, adding that President Benigno Aquino III gave the go-signal for the airport project, as technical or engineering interventions have been identified to ensure its safety.

Findings

“We should not stop scientists from conducting further studies. But so far, there is no study that concludes that there are no possible (engineering solutions),” Chatto said during a forum in Tagbilaran City, where Dr. Fernando Siringan of the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute presented part of a study on Panglao Island.

Siringan said the study, which he conducted with Rose Berdin and Yasuo Maeda, found that rock formations on the shoreline of Panglao showed indications that part of the island went up in the past 10,000 years.

The movement could have been caused by an earthquake, he said.

Siringan, also a geologist, said they found a tidal notch on a micro atoll in Panglao, an indication that the mean sea level went up in that area either because the rock went up or the sea rose.

A microatoll, like other corals, grows underwater. It stops growing vertically just below the surface of the sea.

When the sea level goes higher, the microatoll may start growing vertically again, but a notch will appear distinguishing the new growth.

Siringan also pointed out that Panglao was once underwater, and ground movements or an earthquake, caused it to rise from the sea.

Mactan Island, Cebu and Bohol were also once underwater and rose due to ground movements.

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Director Renato Solidum Jr. stressed that the design and construction of a structure are critical factors in determining if a structure can withstand a strong earthquake.

Speaking at the same forum, Solidum pointed out that there are more houses and structures left standing after the Oct. 15 earthquake, whose epicenter was found in Sagbayan, Bohol.

“This shows that we can build structures that can withstand (a 7.2 magnitude) earthquake. So let’s build back better,” he said.

Siringan and Solidum spoke during a forum on disasters and marine diversity, sponsored by the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries, a project funded by the US Agency for International Development.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 06, 2013.

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