PHIVOLCS in creating disaster resilient communities
By: steph, March 9, 2011

The Philippines is one of the countries located along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Over the years, the country has experienced several geotectonic-related phenomena such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Indeed, disaster management plays an important role to create disaster resilient communities.

Due to this necessity, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has partnered with the GFZ Potsdam in Germany and Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) in Washington, U.S.A. to acquire live streaming of broadband seismograph data. Aside from said organizations which covers worldwide broadband seismograph stations, the Sentinel Asia is likewise being partnered with by PHIVOLCS to receive Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS).

In live streaming and transmitting of data, PHIVOLCS utilizes the Philippine Research, Education and Government Information Network (PREGINET) for timely disaster information.

The broadband seismograph data

According to Melquiades S. Figueroa, Science Research Specialist of PHIVOLCS, the agency uses broadband seismograph data because its data do not saturate when strong earthquake events occur, unlike ordinary short-period seismograph data that saturate at magnitude six (6). “Earthquake events above magnitude that are offshore may create tsunami waves just like what happened in Sumatra, Indonesia in 2004,” Figueroa added.

Figueroa noted that PHIVOLCS gets broadband seismograph data via foreign sources because it has low density seismic network and limited number of broadband seismograph stations. “Foreign data sources, in effect, expand the Philippine national network to even detect global earthquakes. The data acquisition and automatic processing software we use, which is Seiscomp3, is gaining its effectiveness because of our connection via PREGINET. This is the best tool we have right now, to locate the epicenter of strong earthquakes within a short time [sometimes in three minutes] which is good in tsunami warning,” Figueroa explained.

Real-time acquisition of ALOS data

On the other hand, PHIVOLCS receives ALOS data, in real-time, from Sentinel Asia, in making hazard maps for landslides, floods and lahars.

“Philippine participants prepare for potential disasters by making hazard maps for landslides, floods and lahars using ALOS data, in cooperation with Japan, so that communities in the Philippines can increase its awareness and preparedness,” PHIVOLCS Director Renato U. Solidum Jr. said in a report during the 3rd Joint Project Team Meeting on the Sentinel-Asia last 6-8 July 2010. He added that “Philippine participants ask Sentinel Asia Initiative for Emergency Observation Request (EOR) so that they may properly identify/detect and assess the areas affected when a disaster strikes for effective disaster response. This will also validate the usefulness of ALOS imagery.”