A STUDY of the changes still visible following earthquakes in the last century could help protect Myanmar against future earthquakes and tsunamis, scientists believe.
During the first week in August, the Myanmar Earthquake Committee went to Bago Division to survey the offsets, or shifts in the earth and movement of buildings resulting from the 1930 Bago earthquake. The committee aimed to locate the epicentre of the event.
The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and Nan Yan University of Singapore also participated in the survey. The group researched a zone from southern Palay Pagoda Mountain to northern Day Son Pa Mountain. Firstly, the group interviewed old people who had experienced the 1930 earthquake. Then they started to survey the ancient wall of the northern city of Payagyi which moved during the disaster.
U Thu Ya Aung, a research associate and secretary of the Seismotectonics Division, said: “Based on the survey, we think after the 1930 earthquake, the movement of the fault is a little bit faster. But the rate of movement is not constant. It may be slower in some years. We need to survey south of Bago to confirm the direction of the fault’s movement. This is an important fact to know. We are going to restart our research next November.”
Bago Division lies to the south of Myanmar’s Sagaing Fault, which is over 1200 kilometres long. The 1930 earthquake, which measured 7.3 on the Richter scale, was one of the biggest in Myanmar history. Most of the houses in the city were destroyed and about 500 people were killed.
Since 1930, the population in Bago – as well as in Yangon, where 50 people died in the quake – has grown much larger. Geologists think it is essential to put in place earthquake protection systems.
Myanmar’s biggest earthquake, measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, took place in 1912 along the Kyauk Kyan Fault in northern Shan State, another of the country’s main faults (the third is the Rakhine Fault). Kyauk Kyan fault is 800 kilometres long, stretching from Shan State to southern Kayah State.
International scientists have also shown an interest. Members of the Geological Survey of Japan came to Myanmar and researched the Rakhine Fault in a two-year project. Singapore has also started to participate in this activity and established the Earth Observatory Singapore with California Technology University. They aim to contribute to a survey of active faults in Indonesia and Myanmar. The research in Bago Division is a part of the project.