Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology

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Director: Renato Solidum, Jr.
Website: www.phivolcs.gov.ph

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or PHIVOLCS is part of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Service Institutes that provides various scientific information regarding earthquakes, volcanic activity, tsunamis and other related hazards in the Philippines. It also provides services that primarily aims to prepare and safeguard communities against these disasters such as volcanic and geotectonic activity monitoring and data gathering, earthquake and volcanic eruptions warning issuance and forecasting, mapping of areas prone to the disasters, and formulating community disaster-preparedness and mitigation plans, as well as hazards and damages mitigation.

Contents

History

The earth's crust is composed of separate plates which are continuously moving relative to each other and in places where these tectonic plates interact, pushing or grinding against each other, volcanoes and earthquakes occur. The Philippines is located in one of these zones where at least three lithospheric plates meet, and thus the country is host to more than 200 volcanoes and earthquakes occur in at least 5 imperceptible to perceptible earthquakes per day.

COMVOL

In 1951, the violent eruption of Mt. Hibok-hibok created the need for an institution dedicated to the studying and monitoring of active volcanoes in the Philippines. Thus, in 1952, the Commission on Volcanology or COMVOL was created through Republic Act No. 766 to primarily protect life and property from volcanic eruptions and to provide relief and aid for the victims of such eruption. The COMVOLs first order of business was to creat five monitoring stations near the country's five most active volcanoes. In the 1960s, the commission conducted geothermal energy exploration to help with the country's energy needs, indentifying a number of areas for potential geothermal energy harvesting which led to the development of such sites as the Tiwi geothermal area where an energy plant and a salt-making plant were established.

PHIVOLCS

On March 17, 1982, Executive Order No. 784 was issued whose provision called for the reorganization of the National Science Development Board (NSDB) and its agencies into the National Science and Technology Authority (NSTA), which included the reorganization of the Commission on Volcanology into the Philippine Institute of Volcanology or PHIVOLC.

On September 17, 1984, seismology, the science of earthquakes, was transferred from PAGASA to PHIVOLC. With the added duties, the PHIVOLC was renamed to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or PHIVOLCS. Finally in 1987, Executive Order No. 128 was enacted, calling for the reorganization of the NSTA into the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and PHIVOLCS was put under the Service Institutions of the department.

Recent Developments

In August 1990, PHIVOLCS, as well as other service institutions of DOST, became part of the "Inter-Agency Committee on Documenting and Establishing Database on the July 1990 Earthquake" which was tasked to "undertake a unified, systematic and scientific documentation of information on earthquakes, particularly the July 16 killer quake for future planning and research."<ref>July 16 Luzon Earthquake: A Technical Monograph. PHILVOCS Website. Accessed on May 21, 2008.</ref>. The product of the Inter-agency was a technical monograph regarding different aspects of the earthquake, from studies on the characteristics of the 125 km - long rupture produced by the earthquake to studies on the psychologic effects of trauma on the earthquake victims. The monograph is now published online in the website for public reference.

By 2004, PHIVOLCS was already starting to use information technology in the simulation and assessment of seismic events in the country. Backed by a P1M funding assistance from DOST, the institute adapted a Rapid Earthquake Damage Assessment System (REDAS) in the country in an effort to make a direct and instant assessment of the hazards following an earthquake.<ref>PHIVOLCS implements REDAS. Science & Technology Post. Science and Technology Information Institute, Jan-Mar 2004. Accessed on May 21, 2008.</ref> The software was recently used by the local government of Bulacan for urban planning and development.<ref name ="ref 1">Oliva, Erwin. PHIVOLCS Plans to Hook Up Seismic Probes to the Net. Inquirer News Service - www.inq7.net, June 16 2006. Retrieved from Adobe Acrobat PDF file in the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Dept. of the University of the Philippines, Diliman website on May 21, 2008.</ref>

In 2005, a different kind of disaster struck the Institute itself. Nine people, including four PHIVOLCS staff and ex-PHIVOLCS chief Raymundo Punongbayan, were killed when a Philippine Air Force helicopter came crashing down on a mountain in a Nueva Ecija Province. The aircraft was on its way to the town of Dingalan in Aurora province to determine whether the area was suitable for relocation of victims following deadly landslides in 2004.<ref>Anselmo, Roque and Orejas, Tonette. Ex-PHIVOLCS chief, 8 others, die in helicopter crash. Inquirer News Service - www.inq7.net. Retrieved from Adobe Acrobat PDF file in National Institute of Geological Sciences, University of the Philippines, Diliman Website on May 21, 2008.</ref>

In 2006, PHIVOLCS entered into discussions with Smart Communications, Inc. which offered to connect the Institute's seismic probes located in remote ares to the Internet using wireless technology. By that time, the agency has been using expensive satellite (VSAT) technology to monitor seismic activities. This same service offered by SMART is currently being used to connect schools in remote areas to the Internet.<ref name = "ref 1">Oliva, Erwin. PHIVOLCS Plans to Hook Up Seismic Probes to the Net. Inquirer News Service - www.inq7.net, June 16 2006. Retrieved from Adobe Acrobat PDF file in the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Dept. of the University of the Philippines, Diliman website on May 21, 2008.</ref>

One of the most recent advancements in PHIVOLCS was the planned installation of ten tsunami sensors in May 2007 to enhance the Institute's tsunami early warning system. Before that time, there was only one tsunami sensor in Lubang Island in Mindoro. The installation of sensors was part of the government’s disaster mitigation program. Part of the P2.3M program funded by the Finnish government was the conducting of tsunami drills in Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte. <ref>Flores, Helen. PHIVOLCS to Install Tsunami Sensors Nationwide. Philippine Headline News Online Website, May 2, 2007. Accessed on May 21, 2008.</ref>

Mission and Vision

The institution envisions itself to be "a leader in developing well-prepared communities safe from volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other related hazards." Its mission is "to ensure safe communities through establishment of effective monitoring network, development and application of technologies for accurate prediction of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunami occurrences, and other related hazards; mapping and delineation of areas prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes; and enhanced capacity for comprehensive disaster preparedness and risk mitigation."

Functions

Provisions in the Executive Order No. 128, mandates PHIVOLCS the following specific functions:

  1. Predict the occurrence of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes and their geotectonic phenomena;
  2. Determine how eruptions and earthquakes shall occur and also areas likely to be affected;
  3. Exploit the positive aspects of volcanoes and volcanic terrain in the promotion of the socio-economic development efforts of the government;
  4. Generate sufficient data for forecasting volcanic eruptions and earthquakes;
  5. Formulate appropriate disaster-preparedness and mitigation plans; and
  6. Mitigate hazards of volcanic activities through appropriate detection, forecast and warning system.

Structure

Key Officials

As of May, 2008:

  • Renato U. Solidum, Jr. - Director
  • Bartolome C. Bautista - Deputy Director
  • Jaime S. Sincioco - Chief, Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division
  • Ishmael C. Narag - Chief, Seismological Observation and Earthquake Prediction Division
  • Perla J. Delos Reyes - Chief, Geology and Geophysics Research and Development Division
  • Ma. Mylene M. Villegas - Chief, Geologic Disaster Awareness and Preparedness Division
  • Delfin C. Garcia - Chief, Finance and Administrative Division

Divisions and their Functions

Office of the Director - Supervises and coordinates all activities and ensures economical, efficient and effective operation; implements decision-making on inquiries and problems referred by constituent divisions; acts as official representative; in charge of information dissemination and publicity in times of volcanic and seismic crises. Thru its Planning Unit, it provides services relating to research and development, conducts monitoring and control of program/project implementation; supervises planning direction and justifications of plans/programs and provides periodic evaluation and/or appraisal of the financial requirements of on-going programs and recommends appropriate action.

Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division - Monitors and predicts the occurrence of volcano eruptions; generates data on medium and short term forecasting of volcano eruptions; develops new techniques for volcano eruptions predictions and mitigates hazards of volcanic activities through appropriate detection, forecast and warning.

Geology, Geophysics, Research and Development Division - Conducts volcanological, geological and geophysical studies; determines how eruptions and earthquakes shall occur and areas likely to be affected; generates data for long-term forecasting of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes; exploits the positive aspects of volcanoes and volcanic terrains in the promotions of the socio-economic development efforts of the government.

Seismological Observation and Earthquake Prediction Division - Monitors and documents the occurrence of earthquakes; generates data for medium and long term forecasting; develops / adopts techniques for earthquake prediction; mitigates hazards through earthquake risk assessment, earthquake engineering studies and maintenance of monitoring stations

Geologic Disaster Awareness and Preparedness Division - Conducts research and development to generate information needed for disaster mitigation, policy formulation, research, planning and implementation; conducts vulnerability analysis; collates and packages R&D results on geologic phenomena, hazard and disaster mitigation; formulates appropriate disaster preparedness plans and systems mitigation measures; promotes hazard awareness and disaster preparedness through information dissemination and education

Finance and Administrative Division - Handles personnel transactions, including appointments, transfer, resignation and separation; handles financial transaction, maintains accounting records and books of accounts, prepares and submits financial statements and reports, certifies to the availability of funds and allotments and to the correctness of vouchers and journals,etc.; handles cash receipts and disbursements, files and maintains necessary records and documents; procures, stores and disburses supplies, materials and equipment; develops and establishes training programs towards the manpower development; provides staff advice and assistance on financial and management matters; handles handles legal matters and problems affecting the Institute; Provides electrical, security guarding, janitorial and transportation services.

Services

PHIVOLCS offers various services that caters to the public and the scientific community such as educational trips, requests for digital images and videos of volcanoes and earthquakes, requests for data regarding volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and most of their publications such as technical monographs and educational flyers used for information dissemination are available from their website.

See also

References

Footnotes

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Citation

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