Do­nated Sin­ga­porean GPS units to track risk of megaquake

The Myanmar Times - - News - KYI KYI SWAY news­room@mm­times.com

TO bet­ter mon­i­tor the fault lines un­der Myan­mar and keep watch for a megaquake, a Sin­ga­porean re­search net­work has do­nated 10 fault-track­ing global po­si­tion­ing sys­tem (GPS) de­vices to be in­stalled across the coun­try.

The GPS de­vices, which are set un­der­ground, mea­sure the move­ment of plates and faults. Cur­rently, Myan­mar has only eight ac­tive GPS de­vices, which are in­stalled in places like Chin State’s Hakha town­ship, Mon State’s Kyaikto town­ship, Bago Re­gion’s Waw town­ship and Sa­gaing Re­gion’s Sh­webo and Kani town­ships, and at Mile 30 of the Yan­gon-Man­dalay high­way.

The Earth Ob­ser­va­tory of Sin­ga­pore (EOS) plans to set the 10 new GPS de­vices as soon as the Depart­ment of Me­te­o­rol­ogy and Hy­drol­ogy ap­proves their do­na­tion, Myan­mar Earth­quake Com­mit­tee (MEC) re­searcher Daw Hla Hla Aung said.

“We are de­cid­ing where to put them and wait­ing for the per­mit,” she said.

There is no GPS track­ing sta­tion in Myan­mar so the data is cap­tured and an­a­lysed by the EOS, based at Nanyang Tech­no­log­i­cal Univer­sity in Sin­ga­pore. The find­ings are shared with Myan­mar of­fi­cials, MEC of­fi­cials said.

The do­na­tion was made prior to the pub­li­ca­tion of a re­cent Columbia Univer­sity study, which used data from fault-track­ing GPS de­vices in Bangladesh and found that a fault ly­ing un­der­neath Myan­mar could pro­duce a mag­ni­tude-9.0 earth­quake. Re­searchers at Yan­gon Univer­sity’s MEC have de­cried the coun­try’s lack of earth­quake-analy­ses tech­nol­ogy.

In Myan­mar, prepa­ra­tion for a quake is al­most nonex­is­tent. Last year, UN-Habi­tat an­nounced plans to de­velop earth­quake re­sponse pro­ce­dures for Yan­gon, which sits near the Sa­gaing fault. Ex­perts called a mag­ni­tude-6.8 earth­quake that struck in up­per Myan­mar in 2012 a “wake-up call”, cit­ing a lack of pre­pared­ness.

Photo: EPA

A man rides his bi­cy­cle along­side a large crevasse on a badly dam­aged road in Khu Le vil­lage, Singu town­ship, Man­dalay Divi­sion, on Novem­ber 12, 2012, af­ter a 6.8-mag­ni­tude earth­quake rocked cen­tral Myan­mar.

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