Thursday, October 15, 2009

40 tremors recorded in Malaysia over two years

Did you feel any of them?

PETALING JAYA: Since the end of 2007, 40 tremors were recorded in Malaysia but the significant fact was that 37 of these seismic incidences occurred along a fault line in Bentong, Pahang.

The three others recorded were in Manjung in Perak and Jerantut in Pahang.

Meterological Department director Dr Rosaidi Che Abas said that from November 2007 until May last year, Bentong recorded 29 cases of tremors, also known as temblors.

The latest tremors were recorded last Oct 8 where there were eight from 4.45am to 12.05pm measuring between 1.1 and 2.8 on the Richter scale.

All these tremors were detected at Bukit Tinggi and Janda Baik, along a fault line 15km wide and 70km long. The Meteorological Department detected one strong tremor of 3.5 magnitude on the Richter scale.

“What we can say is that even though Bukit Tinggi and Janda Baik are located on the fault line, any earthquake will not possibly surpass 5.0 in magnitude on the Richter scale.

“This means that if such an earthquake were to occur, it will not cause damage to a structurally-strong building.

“We are also stressing that the tremors occurred along that fault line and not at the Titiwangsa Range which is the country’s backbone,” he told Bernama in an interview here.

Concerns among residents
The concerned residents of Bukit Tinggi and Janda Baik had recently called on the Government to make a detailed study on the soil structure along the fault line there.

Their concerns were at a new high following the massive earthquake that hit West Sumatra on Sept 30 as the shocks and tremors were also felt at several locations in Peninsular Malaysia.

The residents claimed that while no buildings collapsed, there was some damage, including cracks in the walls and floors in some buildings.

According to the residents, Janda Baik and Bukit Tinggi were hit by the first tremors in November 2007 following a series of earthquakes that occurred in Indonesia and Philippines.

Dr Rosaidi said the Meterological Department will work closely with the Minerals and Geoscience Department as well as other agencies to conduct an immediate study of the earth’s surface and structure at both locations.

“We will also talk to the affected residents to know what they meant by earth movement and what they felt when this seismic activity happened.

“We also want to know the strength of the tremors said to have caused cracks in the walls and floors (of buildings),” said Dr Rosaidi.

Meterological explanation
Dr Rosaidi said so far the earthquakes that occurred were between one and 10 miles beneath the earth’s surface.

“Only on two occassions were there earthquakes with a magnitude of between 2.8 and 3.5 on the Richter scale and both occurred 10 miles under the earth’s surface,” he said.

There are 13 seismology stations operating in Malaysia, capable of detecting quakes and tremors that occur in the country. Seven are in Peninsular Malaysia with the rest in Sabah and Sarawak.

The latest seismology station to operate is in Jerantut, Pahang.

“Our officers are on duty around the clock. They will alert the authorities,” Dr Rosaidi said.

He said four seismological fault lines had been detected in the country -- Jerantut, Bentong, Kuala Lumpur and the latest, in Manjong, Perak.

Meanwhile, Meteorological Department director-general Dr Yap Kok Seng said any earthquake that measured 2.8 or less on the Richter scale was unlikely to cause damage and harm to life and limb.

“The tremors that happened in Bukit Tinggi was a restabilisation process of the earth’s structure at the fault line in Bukit Tinggi,” he said.

He said this restabilisation process followed the movement of the earth’s layers in the wake of the large-scale earthquakes that happened in the past few years.

Among the major earthquakes were that on Dec 26 in Aceh, Indonesia that caused a tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Nias (Indonesia) on March 28, 2005. The latest was on Sept 30 this year that hit Padang in Indonesia and Bengkulu (Oct 1, 2009).

The magnitude of an earthquake can be measured using the seismometer or seismograph that records it on the Richter scale of 1.0 to 10.0.

An earthquake that measures 1.0 on the Richter scale is too small and can occur daily without being noticed. -- Bernama

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