Phivolcs installs tsunami detector in Sarangani

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 4 Dec) – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has installed a tsunami detection system at the coastal municipality of Glan in Sarangani Province in a bid to enhance the area’s preparedness against possible earthquake-related disasters.

Nane Danlag, acting head of the Phivolcs station here, said Wednesday the tsunami detection or warning system was set up at the port of Glan, which was among the areas in Mindanao that had been identified by the agency as highly vulnerable to the onslaught of destructive tsunamis.

She said the initiative is part of the second phase of a joint project on tsunami warning and preparedness by Phivolcs and the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), which are both under the Department of Science and Technology.

The project mainly involves the “establishment of a cost-effective local tsunami early warning system or TeWS for selected high-risk coastal communities of the Philippines.”

Under the project, Phivolcs installed a set of tsunami detection system that is equipped with ultrasonic tide, dry and wet sensors, Danlag said.

“These sensors are capable of detecting abnormal conditions in the coastal waters, especially after the occurrence of major earthquakes,” she told MindaNews.

A project briefer cited that the “reliable yet low-maintenance” tsunami detection equipment is composed of a platform with a pole to which different sensors are attached.

It said the ultrasonic tide sensor notes the rise and fall of the sea level while dry sensor determines whether water has receded immediately after an earthquake, thus indicating a very high possibility of tsunami occurrence.

The wet sensors, which are installed at heights of 1 to 10 meters, detect if tsunami water has already hit the pole.

Danlag said the sensors of the tsunami detection system are connected via mobile phone technology to the tsunami alerting sirens installed in selected coastal communities.

She said the tsunami alerting sirens, which were developed by ASTI, are being put up at a portion of Glan Poblacion and in Barangay Ladol in Alabel town.

“We’re targeting to fully operate the system before the end of the month,” she said.

Aside from Glan, Danlag said they are planning to install a similar system in the coastal town of Maasim early next year.

She said they already signed a memorandum of agreement with the GenSan Shipyard and Machine Works, Inc. based in Barangay Tinoto in Maasim for the installation of the system at a portion of its port area.

Danlag explained that the system, which was jointly developed by Phivolcs and ASTI experts, requires its installation in a stable port so it can operate properly.

The tsunami alerting sirens will be later set up in selected coastal communities in this city and in parts of Maasim town, she said.

Danlag said they pushed for the installation of the tsunami detection system in the area due to its proximity to the Cotabato Trench and the Celebes Sea, where strong tectonic earthquakes had occurred in the past years.

In March 2002, a 7.5-magnitude quake along the Cotabato Trench triggered tsunamis of as high as three meters in coastal areas of Kiamba in Sarangani and Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat.