Expert dispels fears quake may trigger eruption

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By GYNNIE KERO
A GOVERNMENT seismologist has dispelled speculation that the extinct Mt Bosavi volcano in Southern Highlands will erupt.
The Rabaul Volcanological Observatory principal geodetic surveyor Steve Saunders in an email yesterday said: “Satellite images show no unusual happenings at any old Highlands volcanoes.
“The 7.5 earthquake was tectonic in origin (too big to be volcanic).
“The aftershocks are the result of adjustments of strain within the region due to the initial large one on Saturday.
“It is very unlikely a tectonic earthquake will trigger a long dormant volcano immediately.”
Meanwhile, the Port Moresby Geophysical Observatory branch of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management is monitoring the earthquake.
It warned people that the aftershocks of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake would continue for the next few weeks.
Chris McKee, the acting director of the Geohazards Management Division, said massive damage to infrastructure such as buildings and bridges warranted an immediate review of the PNG building code.
“The damage to infrastructure emphasizes the need to review the building codes for PNG to strengthen the resilience of infrastructure.”
He said plans for a review of the building codes were in progress.
“The building code was created in the early 1980s and has not been revised since,” he said.
“The damage caused to infrastructure, actually comes at a time when we are trying to revise the building code for PNG.
“It’s important to revise the building code to reflect what we know about seismicity in the region.
“We have done a seismic hazard assessment in the last few years which has filled in some gaps and made us realise that the regional seismic hazard assessment was actually underestimated for the seismic activity throughout the country.
“And our map of the seismic hazards has actually been verified to some extent by the earthquake that occurred on Monday.”

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