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Kinabalu may have lost height after earthquake

 | July 1, 2015

Authorities warn the mountain was still unstable and the 100 aftershocks recorded so far extend to Tuaran and the South China Sea


KOTA KINABALU: Authorities in Sabah are conducting studies to determine whether the 4,095 metre Mount Kinabalu, the highest in Southeast Asia excluding Papua New Guinea, has become higher or lost height after the Richter 6 scale earthquake on June 5.

“A sensor would be installed soon on Kinabalu which was still unstable”

This was disclosed by geologist Felix Tongkul during a public awareness talk on the Ranau earthquake on Tuesday at the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Recital Hall. “The mountain would take some time to stabilise although we are outside the Pacific Ring of Fire of earthquakes and active volcanoes which runs through Japan, Hawaii, the Philippines and Indonesia.”

Felix wanted to dispel wild theories circulating in the social media since the June 5 earthquake. “It was difficult to determine, despite advances in technology, where an earthquake would strike and when.”

“The reading of Kinabalu takes its cue from the exact location of the June 5 earthquake which was near the Mesilau Nature Resort in Kundasang, 20 metres from Ranau town. The earthquake was Richter 6 and not 5.9 as earlier reported,” said Felix. “In order to pinpoint the exact location of an earthquake, the readings from three stations must be taken and compared.”

Logically, he added, the mountain would have gone down within by at least a metre. “On the surface, this would show up as a few centimeters shorter.”

“The mountain was still in the phase of experiencing aftershocks, 100 being recorded so far, as the fault lines extend all the way to Tuaran and the South China Sea.”

Felix conceded that it was more likely that the mountain was now shorter and not higher given the magnitude of the earthquake that hit the Kinabalu area and Ranau.

He said the possibility of Kinabalu and the Ranau area being hit by another Richter 6 scale earthquake was quite remote. “This was based on previous records but it’s difficult to be precise as there are not enough records before the 1960s.”

The region, he recalled, had been hit by earthquakes in 1966, 1991 and 2015. “Between 1966 and 2010, no records were taken of smaller quakes and aftershocks.”

Ranau, he stressed, was in fact regularly hit by earthquakes, the previous one being last year when the area experienced a Richter 4.7 scale quake.

Sabah now has seven stations viz. Telipok, Ranau, Kudat, Telupid, Tawau and Sapulut and at UMS to detect earth movements and earthquakes.


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