A seismic station

First ever national earthquake monitoring network installed

The Department of Geology and Mines under the Ministry of Economic Affairs has completed the installation of six seismic stations and twenty intensity meters in the country last month. The monitoring networks will help in providing information about the location and the magnitudes of the quake and help in assessing the degree of the tremors felt in the different locations where they have been placed.

The six seismic stations have been established in Thimphu, Bumthang, Trashigang, Samdrup Jongkhar, Gelephu and Samtse which covered the four cardinal directions of the country. The intensity meters have been installed in all the twenty Dzongkhags.

“The earthquake monitoring network called seismic stations will provide information on physical location of earthquakes (epicenter), magnitude and behavior of micro seismicity. Seismic data from this network will be used to depict source structures, rupture mechanisms and generate earthquake hazard maps,” said Jamyang Chophel, Senior Engineering Geologist, who is also the project focal person.

Jamyang said that the six dzongkhags have been chosen for the establishment of the seismic stations to cover every direction of the country with uniformity. The areas for the establishment of such stations have been chosen where there are less disturbances, so that the sensors can accurately detect the seismic waves.

“The earthquake intensity meters will be used to carry out post-disaster damage assessment, emergency relief responses and simulate future damage predictions,” said Jamyang Chophel.

He said that based on the shake Maps generated post disaster planning can be done accordingly when communication networks fails, which will help in the efficient rescue and evacuation processes.

The project focal person said that the installation of the monitoring networks is a landmark achievement for Bhutan as the country was among the very few in the world without such advanced monitors.

He also explained the challenges faced in tapping the full potential of such monitoring networks. “We face lots of communication hurdles. We used Bhutan Telecom network and it is not at all reliable, so there is the need for proper enhancement in the communication field. We’ll try to get better communication during unanticipated events when mobile networks fail by requesting the government to use their internet network with higher speed and we will also explore means through satellites.”

He added that the support from relevant stakeholders like Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority and Department of Information Technology and Telecom will greatly help in rendering better services during times of need.

For more accuracy and proper monitoring, the Ministry has plans to install more intensity meters in all the 205 Gewogs in the country and a separate project is in line to establish 3 more seismic stations.

The networks have been established with the financial assistance from World Bank under the supervision of Japan Policy for Human Resource Development project and also in collaboration with National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience and Kyoto University from Japan and Regional Integrated Early Warning System based in Bangkok.

The project which started in May 2013 was completed at the end of July this year.

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