The Mati fault segment of the Philippine Fault system has not moved for more than 400 years now. And this could be the source of what experts call “The Big One” – a magnitude 8 earthquake that would have Mati as its epicenter but could wreak bigger destruction in Davao City and the rest of Davao Region and Eastern Mindanao.
Charlemagne Bagasol, head of the Mati City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said that the Philippine Fault system ends in Mati City. Though several strong tremors have occurred in the past affecting Mati, the origin was not the Mati segment.
Based on records, strong tremors registering from 7.1 to 8.3 magnitude happened in Eastern Mindanao since 1913 with the latest in 1992. All of the strong tremors happened in the sea and caused tsunamis.
In the May 17, 1992 earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1, the coastal towns of Sta. Fe in Caraga and Bunga in Manay, all in Davao Oriental, were hit with 6-meter high waves destroying several boats and stilt houses.
Bagasol said it is highly possible that the Mati segment of the Philippine fault would move. If this happens, experts believe that it would produce a magnitude 8 earthquake that will cause more damage in Davao City than in the epicenter in Mati.
Experts explain that this is because Mati has a more solid landmass compared to Davao City that has softer. Davao City could feel six to eight intensity, if ever.
Other hazards that the earthquake may cause are ground shaking, ground rupture, liquefaction, earthquake-induced landslide, and fire.
Aside from Mati Fault System, Phivolcs is also monitoring the Central Davao Fault System that has five segments and transect in 60 barangays in Davao City. It could also cause destructive damage to the city, especially in the southern part.
Bagasol however said that the destructive effects of a strong earthquake and tsunami could be lessened if the people are prepared. He urged the public to always participate in all of their earthquake drills so that they would all be prepared for any eventualities.
On July 26, Friday, at exactly 8:30 in the morning, sirens will be heard all over Mati City to start off the city-wide earthquake drill. He said this drill is aimed at preparing everyone just in case “The Big One” that experts fear most would eventually happen.