Presidential panel reveals cause of Abuja earth tremor

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A presidential committee has unearthed that indiscriminate drilling of boreholes caused the earth tremor that shook parts of Abuja earlier this month.

There was panic as residents of Jabbi, Gwarinpa and Mpape districts in the Federal Capital Territory experienced the violent vibration in the ground between September 5 and 7.

In response to the development, the Nigerian government set up a committee headed by the Director-General of the National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA, Seidu Mohammed, to ascertain the cause.

Some residents had expressed suspicion that the tremor was as a result of massive quarry activities by some construction companies around Mpape.

However, the presidential committee in its report, which was turned in on Friday, disputed that quarry activities were responsible for the earth tremor.

According to the findings, some spots and locations have been identified and considered to be earthquake prone in Nigeria, particularly in Abuja.

The presidential committee, as reported by Channels TV, said the earth tremor was as a result of indiscriminate sinking of boreholes in the FCT.

The committee said the indiscriminate sinking of boreholes is a major problem in the territory.

The committee, while submitting its report to the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, recommended that the government strictly regulate hydrological activities in Abuja.

The committee attributed the recent quake to the multiple drilling of boreholes and the daily extraction of 330,000 metric tonnes of water from the earth.

The quake, they said, would still continue if the government does not find a lasting solution to earth drilling.

The committee predicted the possibility of more tremors in the country unless the sinking of boreholes was controlled.

Relying on the results obtained, using the probability of recurrence theory, the committee warned that the probability of recurrence in the near future remained “fairly high in Nigeria”.

The chairman of the committee, Mohammed disclosed that about 110,000 boreholes sunk in Abuja produce 330,000 metric tonnes of water daily.

“The latest occurred in September 7th of 2018 in Abuja with Mpape as epicenter. Though these earthquakes may have been of low-magnitudes, it is now certain that earthquake occurrence has become a potential hazard to the nation,” Mohammed said.

“The report of the geological, hydrogeological and geotechnical investigations carried out in 1978 by Julius Berger for Abuja identified Mpape as a Shear zone that is weak with several fractures and fault system.”

Mohammed maintained that the 110,000 boreholes within Abuja metropolis and about 330, 000 metric tonnes of water extracted daily were not sustainable.

“There is the need to regulate the exploitation of ground water resources of Abuja via indiscriminate sinking of boreholes because this has been the primary reason for the stress build up leading to the Abuja tremors of 5th-7th September, 2018.

“Government should release fund for the training of geophysicist, geologists, engineers, technologists and researchers to participate in earth science research, in order to improve our understanding of Nigerian and West African geophysics and tectonics dynamism. We emphasize that this research has crucial societal ‘value as it is evident in earthquake hazard readiness and mitigation.”

The minister said the committee would continue its research after the submission. He urged the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute, NBRRI, to develop seismic building code that can resist tremors in future.

Other earth tremor prone areas in Nigeria include Bayelsa, Oyo and Kaduna states.

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