The Marikina Fault Line: What you need to know

The recent devastating earthquake in Nepal that killed thousands of people has been in the news lately, and there has been renewed interest in earthquake preparation and a reminder on what to do if it happens here.

Relief Map of Metro Manila and nearby provinces showing the West and East Valley Fault Line by Wikipedia
Relief Map of Metro Manila and nearby provinces showing the West and East Valley Fault Line by By Ervin Malicdem (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


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In the Philippines, the most recent deadliest earthquake we’ve had was in 2013, where a 7.2 quake that hit Bohol and Cebu in October left over 200 people dead, and damages to property amounting to at least P2 billion.

In Metro Manila, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) is watching the Marikina Valley Fault System. Also known as Marikina Valley Fault or West Valley Fault, this is a fault system that runs through major cities in the metro and nearby provinces.

Among them are the following: Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan, Rodriguez in Rizal, Quezon City, Pasig City, Taguig City, Muntinlupa City, San Pedro, Cabuyao, Calamba and Sta. Rosa in Laguna, and Carmona, Silang and General Mariano Alvarez in Cavite.

Phivolcs said the fault, which is capable of a large-scale earthquake of magnitude 7 or higher, is “ripe for movement” and can strike anytime in the next few years.

It also released a hazard map showing exactly where the fault passes through and has identified key areas where residential villages, hospitals, and schools are located directly over the valley fault.

West Valley and East Valley Fault Map
West Valley and East Valley Fault Map

Some of the larger residential villages identified are Loyola Subdivision and Cinco Hermano Subdivision in Marikina; Filinvest Homes II, White Plains Subdivision and Greenmeadows in Quezon City; the Valle Verde villages in Pasig City; and Camella Homes in Muntinlupa.

What to do if your home is near a fault?

For residents whose homes are near the identified areas of Phivolcs, the chief reminder is not to panic. Many of the houses are not located exactly above the fault line; it may experience intense vibrations and shaking during an earthquake, but it is at risk just as much as the other houses in Metro Manila.

The best thing to do is to have an engineer check out the structural integrity of your house, or any structure, to make sure it is earthquake-ready.

What to do before, during and after the “Big One”

Phivolcs released a list of things to do before, during and after an earthquake. The best preparation is to keep these things in mind so that you will know what to do when a large quake strikes.

Before:

1. Identify the earthquake hazards in your area
2. Strap or bolt heavy furniture or cabinet to the walls
3. Check the stability of hanging objects like ceiling fans and chandeliers
4. Breakable items, harmful chemicals, and flammable materials should be stored properly in the lowermost secured shelves

During:

1. Stay calm. When you are inside a structurally sound building or home, stay there. Do the “duck, cover and hold”
2. If possible, quickly open the door for exit
3. Duck under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it, or protect your head with your arms
4. Stay away from glass windows, shelves, cabinets and other heavy objects
5. If you’re outside, move to an open area. Stay away from trees, power lines, and concrete structures
6. Move away from steep slopes which may be affected by landslides

After

1. Be prepared for aftershocks. Once the shaking stops, take the fastest and safest way out of the building.
2. Don’t use elevators or enter damaged buildings
3. Check yourself and others for injuries
4. Check water and electrical lines for damages
5. Check for spills of chemical, toxic and flammable materials
6. If you need to evacuate your residence, have a message stating where you are going and bring your emergency supply kit

The most important reminder is to stay levelheaded during an earthquake. Panic will only worsen the situation. Keep a clear head so that you know how to best keep yourself and your family in a safe situation.

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