An NRCP-funded research project discussed the correlations of geological evidence with tsunami preparedness during the Regional Basic Research Caravan in Region IX – Season 2. This was held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on May 31, 2022.

The said caravan is one of NRCP’s initiatives to showcase relevant basic research in different regions and promote regional engagements. It is also an opportunity to promote the programs of NRCP which various stakeholders can participate in or benefit from.

 Beyond Geological Evidence1

Dr. Ramos presented her research virtually.

Dr. Noelynna Ramos, Professor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences in UP Diliman and a Regular NRCP Member, presented her study titled, “Investigation of Potential Paleo-Tsunami Deposits in Western Philippines.”

“The study aims to establish geological evidence of the country’s worst historical tsunami, the 1976 Moro Gulf Tsunami, and to contribute to our knowledge of tsunami deposits in tropical settings,” shared Dr. Ramos.

The said tsunami is considered the deadliest in Philippine history, killing at least 8,000 across different areas in Western Mindanao.

“By understanding the geological evidence of the 1976 tsunami, we can have a benchmark for future occurrences,” said Dr. Ramos.

Dr. Ramos stressed that there is a lack of study regarding tsunamis in the Philippines, further noting that the country is one of the most prone to these hazards.2

Dr. Geraldo S. Petilla, NRCP FAD Chief, hosted the event.

Using various methods such as geological mapping and radiocarbon dating, the researcher discovered that Pagadian City, Tukuran, and San Pablo in Zamboanga del Sur have layers of washover deposits from the 1976 tsunami.

Washover deposits are layers of mud and/or rocks deposited on the coast from left by tsunamis and storm surges.

The study also revealed that the tsunami deposits contain erosional surfaces, rip-up clasts, and magnetite lamina. According to Dr. Ramos, this means that some of the deposits came from under the deep parts of ocean, further indicating the strength of the tsunami.

How sediments’ findings correlate with preparedness

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Ms. Horizon Chaser from the Happy Morning Show participates during the open forum.

Dr. Ramos cited the sediments provide clues on when tsunamis can strike coastal areas in the future. These can also tell how frequent the tsunamis occur.

The findings of the study, therefore, can serve as a helpful reference since nearly 70% of the country’s population is exposed to tsunamis and typhoons.

“Maari nating malaman kung ilang beses na nangyari ang mga matataas na alon na ito para makapaghanda tayo sa maaring mangyari sa hinaharap (We can determine how many times these giant waves occur, hence, prepare us for future scenarios),” said Dr. Ramos

She added that with the findings of the study, local government units can develop a site-specific, research-based, and proactive coastal management strategy and plan. These will also help them in regularly assessing the hazardscape and risk profile of an area.

Dr. Ramos likewise shared that she and her team are collaborating with other government agencies to deepen their research and expand to other areas. // by Daniel Jason M. Maches, Information Officer II, FAD-NRCP