Met department sets up seismography instruments in Manicaland to detect earthquakes

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By Staff Reporter

Chimanimani – Following the March tropical Cyclone Idai which ravaged the south eastern parts of Manicaland, leaving massive death and environmental damage, the Meteorology Service Department is setting up seismography instruments across the region, to detect earthquakes.

Manicaland Civil Protection Unit chairperson, Edgars Seenza said being seismically active, the eastern highlands experiences moderate earth tremors annually.

“Government is now closely monitoring the region with the assistance of the Meteorological Service Department which is now setting up seismography instruments across the region,” said Seenza.

He said they have since set up two in Chipinge with plans to have two more in Chimanimani and Mutare.

“We now have new instruments; one stationed at Coffee Research connected to the seismology centre in Bulawayo. We also have another stationed in the Beacon Hill area where the tremors are more active in Chipinge.

“The instruments relay messages to the one at Coffee research which then relays them to the one in Bulawayo. There is plan to have another one in Chimanimani and another one in Mutare,” he said.

There had been concerns that damages from Cyclone Idai had been worsened by a quake that hit the region in the evening before the landslides and floods that claimed 341 lives, injured over 250 and left 344 missing.

However, Seenza ruled out the possibility of an earthquake before Cyclone Idai ravaged the region.

“There was no connection. That has been ruled out. People might have felt some vibrations caused by the massive landslides.

“Why people thought that there was an earthquake was that when the oversaturated ground water burst out, it happened simultaneously and they felt like the ground was shaking,” said the CPU boss.

He said the movement was not recorded on seismographs instruments which were set up in a distant location.

Eastern Zimbabwe, which is part of the East African Rift System was late last year struck by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake whose epicentre was in Machaze, Mozambique in 2008.

According to US Geological Service Agency (USGS), the quake had occurred 53km south east of the town of Chipinge, affecting parts of Zimbabwe and neighbouring Mozambique.

It was felt all across the region to places more than 500 kilometres away in Zambia and South Africa.

“Following the major quake, the region would experience tremors at ‘worrying frequency’ with investigations later revealing that they were not independent earthquakes but aftershocks.

“We are worried about the tremors because they have been a recurrence. At one point they would occur twice or thrice a week.

“What investigators have found out now is that they are the aftershocks of the December 2018 earthquake. They seem now to be scaling down in frequency,” Seenza said.