Facts and myths about earthquakes

AS RESIDENTS in Metro Manila prepare for the magnitude-7.2 earthquake which might result from movement of the West Valley Fault, Sun.Star collated facts and misconceptions about ground shaking.

The ground can open up and swallow people and buildings

It happens only in movies. During an earthquake, the ground moves across the fault and not away from it.

“It will not be like what was seen in the movie 'San Andreas' where the ground opened and swallowed everything. During an earthquake there will only be displacement as far as three meters,” Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) resident volcanologist Jeffrey Perez said.

Faults do not gape open during an earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey.

An earthquake cannot be predicted

At present, Phivolcs said the science of earthquake prediction has not yet matured to the point that imminent earthquakes can be predicted (time, location and size of earthquakes) using a rational model.

“The exact date and time which the earthquake will occur cannot be identified by science. All we know is that there is a fault which may be the source of the earthquake,” Perez said.

One should for head for the doorway during an earthquake

Duck, cover and hold (taking cover under sturdy table) is still the best thing to do when you are inside the house or a building.

Those outside their homes can rush to an open field and stay away from power lines and buildings because debris might fall off the structure.

“Triangle of Life" as way to survive an intense quake

Self-proclaimed rescue guru Doug Copp said that people should take cover next to sturdy objects, disputing the widely accepted practice of duck, cover, and hold.

“It is not true. You will not be 100 percent safe with that ('Triangle of Life' theory). What if the shelter or anything you are leaning crush on you, you will still be in danger,” Perez said.

An earthquake cannot cause death unlike flood and landslides

The earthquake can't kill but its effects do: falling debris, fire and tsunami.



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