Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Mount Kinabalu may be shorter after quake

KOTA KINABALU: Is Mount Kinabalu still standing tall at 4,095 meters or is it now shorter?

According to Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) geologist Professor Dr Felix Tongkul at a public talk on the Ranau earthquake at the UMS Recital Hall yesterday, the possibility of the mountain losing a bit of its height was not improbable but this would probably be just a few centimeters shorter.

On the other hand, the possibility of the mountain gaining a bit of height was also probable, he said.

He added that a survey was currently being done to see whether the mountain gained or lost a bit of height following the quake and subsequent aftershocks.

“There is yet an answer, but logically, it should go down a bit … with the magnitude of 6.0 Richter scale, the mountain could experience about one meter in reduction from within but not at its surface, which will not see that much changes,” he said.

Dr Tongkul also disclosed that the mountain was still at the phase of experiencing aftershocks and the fault lines were easing their way down to Tuaran and to the South China Sea. So far, 100 aftershocks have been recorded.

He also pointed out that the possibility of Ranau getting hit by an earthquake stronger than the 6.0 Richter scale it experienced on June 5 was quite remote.

He said this was based on previous records that were available to them.

However, he said that it was difficult to be precise because Sabah did not have enough earthquake records prior to the 1960s.

So far, the records showed that Ranau has been hit by three major earthquakes in 1966, 1991 and 2015.

Very little or no details of aftershocks and smaller quakes were recorded between 1966 and 2010, he said.

He attributed the lack of records collected then to the lack of stations established to detect the quakes.

Now Sabah has seven stations to detect earthquakes in Sabah located in Telipok, Ranau, Kudat, Telupid, Tawau, Sapulut and here (at UMS).

Dr Tongkul explained that in order to pinpoint the exact location of an earthquake, the readings from three stations must be garnered.

It was through these readings that the relevant authorities were able to identify that the exact location of the recent major earthquake was near Mesilou Resort in Kundasang (20 kilometers from Ranau town) and that the exact strength of the quake was 6.0 Richter scale and not 5.9 Richter scale as was previously reported, he said.