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Seismic activity: Major reservoirs to be monitored

By Sarah Hannan

Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera has recommended seismometers and other monitoring and observation mechanisms to be adapted in all the major reservoirs in the country.

Upon receipt of the expert committee report on the recent tremor reported in Kandy, Amaraweera stated: “The committee has recommended four steps that should be followed to continuously monitor the seismic activities and that can be used for reference and observation to forecast and analyse the possible long-term impacts to the geographical area and to any infrastructure.”

He added that the report did not draw any correlation between limestone quarrying that is conducted in the area and the seismic activities recorded 10 days ago, and said that it was similar to the seismic activity that was recorded during end-August to early September this year in the same area.

The Minister announced these recommendations following the receipt of the expert committee report that was appointed to investigate the most recent tremor that was reported in Anuragama, in the Kandy District.

“Although the recent seismic activity was recorded at a value of 2 on the Richter scale, this is still considered to be a minor tremor and is not considered an earthquake. Periodically, such seismic activity is experienced, based on the seismological formations of the area, which is part of the weathering process,” Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) Chairman Anura Walpola told The Sunday Morning.   

“As instructed by the expert committee, continuous studies are to be carried out with the participation of geologists and undergraduates from the fields of geology and structural engineering in the coming weeks. Further studies will also be carried out to measure any seismic activities that might be caused when the limestone quarrying is conducted,” Walpola elaborated.

The expert committee had recommended that continuous long-term monitoring is to be established in and around Digana; structural rupture monitoring is to be conducted surrounding the dolomite mine in Aluthwatta area; a reporting mechanism is to be set in place to conduct a survey using the observations made by geologists and undergraduates during their field work in the area, where they would compile a detailed geological/structural map; and real-time updates of the accelerometer and seismograph are to be shared with GSMB National Data Centre.

The expert committee that conducted the investigation comprised Senior Seismologist Nilmini Thaldena, Senior Geologist Mahinda Seneviratne, Geologist Mahasen Wickramaratne, Seismologist Jayanath Herath, Seismologist Uthpala Ratnayake, and Trainee Seismologist Sachintha Weeranayake.