Buildings at Earthquake-prone zones can collapse during tremors – GGSA

Accra, – Buildings and structures within and along earthquake prone zones or fault lines, can typically not survive a major earthquake.

This makes it crucial for people living within such zones to be well aware of the constant risk they face and take the needed precautions.

Mr Nicholas Opoku, Senior Seismologist at the Ghana Geological Survey Authority, said this during an interview with the Ghana News Agency, following two earth tremors that recently happened in Accra within a month.

The tremors happened on December 9, 2018, and January 13, around Weija, within the Greater Accra region.

He said whenever small earthquakes happened in close succession of each other within a given area, it meant a major disastrous one was imminent.

The dynamics of earth quakes however makes it impossible to predict them at the moment, so the best and only thing to do is to take precautions to minimise their impact, in case they happen, said the senior seismologist.

Touching on some major precautions to be taken, Mr Opoku said difficult as it might be, it was crucial to take certain major precautions against a major tremor when it was still possible to do so.

A genuine Geologist would definitely advise people staying in earthquake prone areas or fault zones, to leave, he said, adding, buildings along fault lines or zones cannot survive a major earth quake.

Mr. Opoku said it was unfortunate that the provisions of the law on putting up buildings, was not being fully respected.

He said if the right thing was done from the beginning, there would not be buildings within dangerous regions or fault zones and would minimise the extent of damage a major earthquake could cause.

Mr Opoku added that water-logged soil also amplified the effects of earth quakes and tremors, which made it absolutely unadvisable to build on them.

Liquefaction is when an earthquake causes buildings located within water-logged areas to sink, the senior Seismologist said.

He said with buildings located on and around hills and mountains, the effects of an earthquake such as landslides which typically destroyed lives and property were typical.

Mr Opoku urged the relevant authorities to be particularly vigilant with ensuring that buildings and other structures were put up in relatively risk free zones, especially in an era when there is a scramble for lands by both individual and organisational estate developers.

He continued, even if the Geological Survey Department might not be involved, please consult certified Geologists and ensure safe locations for your structures and buildings.

Ghana has major earthquake fault lines or zones, stretching from the McCarthy Hill area in Accra, westwards towards the Central Region and eastwards towards the Akuapim Ridge, through to the Volta Region.

Geological experts have established that whenever relatively harmless earth tremors occured within specific locations in close succession of each other, it indicated a pending major earthquake with the potential to do real damage.

Accra suffered its most recent major earthquake in 1939, which caused the deaths of well over ten people and left several dozens injured.

The quake also severely damaged several buildings and structures.

Source: Ghana News Agency