Abrigo: Are you ready for the big one?

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BRACE yourself for the big one, do not panic.

Associate Scientist of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), Dr. Toto Bacolcol, hoisted cautionary account of possible magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Mindanao saying, “Based on the length of this fault in Cotabato, it’s capable of generating a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.” He warned the recent earthquakes could be foreshocks to a big one.

Cotabato in Central Mindanao is one of the most seismically active regions in the Philippines according to Phivolcs and mentioned the Cotabato Trench as the major source of earthquakes.

Authorities said Central Mindanao has several active faults: M’lang Fault, Makilala-Malungon Fault, North Columbio Fault, South Columbio Fault, and Cotabato-Sindangan Fault.

Phivolcs explained that all faults are independent to generate their own magnitude and structures. But if a fault moves, it loads stress to the other fault. The process is called “stress transfer”. This is what happened to a fault system in Cotabato, where a certain segment of a fault triggered and disturbed each other. So the series of tremors are interrelated and will continue until December according to Phivolcs.

Authorities also said the quakes on October 16, 29 and 31 were tectonic in origin and not movement of active volcanoes near the epicenter. The institute admitted they are still determining what triggered the destructive quakes that killed 23, because there is no pattern of such series in the history of earthquakes in the country.

Mindanao has been strongly quivered many times in the past. In fact some of you, who are older than me, can impudently recall the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in 1976 that generated tsunami in Mindanao. I heard a preacher recounted this incident in his sermon, recalling how more than 6,000 people died and about 2,000 were missing. That strong magnitude was caused by the Cotabato Trench.

Another recorded strong earthquake in Mindanao was in 1955 where a 7.5 magnitude hit Lanao and killed more than 400 people.

The predicted “big one” in Mindanao may not be as damaging as the expected “big one” in greater Manila, projecting 34,000 people may die given the fact that Manila is heavily populated and of dense vertical structures.

Now think of this, Phivolcs admitted there had never been a pattern similar to the recent occurrence in Mindanao in the past and their warnings for the “big one” rely only on the scraps of mounding hypotheses. These scientists must go back to the basic that knowledge is the foundation of sound arguments.

Perhaps the best thing Phivolcs can do is to hire foreign specialists from the advanced countries who are experts in the field of seismology and geophysics with high-end instruments to determine the causes of tremors, including the possibility of linking to the nearby volcanoes. Doing so, will make the institute credible to pronounce that the big one is imminent which I believe the Supreme Being will not allow without a purpose.

In ardent prayers we are begging to the Almighty One to spare Mindanao.


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