Community-based Environmental Observations Catches Quake
Community Monitoring and Preparedness for Natural Disasters
16 June 2005
21-22 April 2005, UNDP/COMPREND (see attached background files) partnered with the
Lyceum of Batangas to hold a Crustal Stress Consultation 1 in
two weeks after the Crustal Stress Consultation 1 in
been 3 days that the weather here in baler and nearby towns is unusual. i first
observed that the environment is somewhat filled with a thin smoke last may 3
around 10PM. i took a look at the window before i went to bed and observed that
there was like a smoke that envelopes the environment. i thought that our neighbor
burned their dried leaves in the backyard and went to sleep. but the next day,
wednesday, may 4, around 5AM, my husband woke me up and told me that it's foggy
outside. i went to the rooftop and yes, it was foggy but i would like to
describe it as a smoke that is evenly distributed. it was not cold then, which
is usually felt when there's a fog. when i went to the office in the morning, i
passed through the aguang bridge, it's
the longest bridge in the town of
i also informed our PDCC about this (and he has the same observation) but of course, we can't give any warning or whatever because we are not authorized to do so. and besides, WE MAY BE WRONG.... i also called mina buenaflor on my daily observation.
(Above email was sent out and received on May 6, 2005)
Mina Buenaflor, the Community Focal Point for UNDP/COMPREND
Please take not(e) of the following unusual observations reported to me via
text by our volunteer in Baler, Riza Mendoza:
1. it has been three days now since she has observed low lying hazy
clouds/fog in their area; her friend reports clouds/fog is darker in
Casiguran area and people are afraid of what they see as this is the first
time they have observed this thing. She explained through a phone call this
similar to my observations in
active fault line in Casiguran and a volcano(?). Note: There is no reported
or tropical storm from PAG-ASA but
is far from Baler, of course) is active and alert level 1 is up.
2.one barangay/community reports that the waterpumps in that area are all
dried up. There is only one source (water pump) where they get water as of
the moment. One of her officemates' waterflowing also dried up yesterday.
She already reported (thru text) these observations to Myllene of PHIVOLCS,
although, there is no response from the latter as of this writing. I am
keeping all her txt messages to me and asked for Mam Laura's number so I cal
call her. Ok, regards. Only FYI. Mina
receipt of these two emails, Jean Chu notified the crustal stress expert team
of UNDP/COMPREND in Beijing, sharing with these team scientists the macroprecursors
noted by the community volunteers in Baler. The
While the Luzon crustal stress network is presently less than 70% operational for forecasting research, with only one of the four eastern Luzon monitoring sites able to regularly record crustal stress readings, the Beijing scientists were able to use the additional macro-precursor information from the Baler community to develop the following community-based research forecast. This research result was faxed to PHIVOLCS on 15 May 2005.
Below, are the actual values of the community-based research forecast, which were received and dated by UNDP/COMPREND on 17 May 2005.
The 3 elements of the Community-Based Research Forecast were:
Forecast Time: 22-29 May 2005 (midpoint is May 26, 2005)
Forecast Magnitude: 5.5-6.0 (midpoint is 5.75)
Forecast Location: 15.9 N, 121.6 E (in the area of Baler, Aurora)
The 3 elements for the Actual Earthquake which occurred were:
(from the USGS NEIC earthquake database):
Earthquake Time: 25 May 2005 (UTC); 26 May 2005 (Manila time)
Earthquake Magnitude: 5.0
Earthquake Location: 14.68N, 123.90E (east of Baler, Aurora)
A comparison of the Forecast and Actual Earthquake elements show that:
Time is correct
Magnitude is off by 0.75
Location is off by 356 kilometers to the east of Baler.
These results are remarkable, considering that the
The above forecasting success comes directly from the keen observations and timely information shared by the Aurora PPDO and her colleague in the PDCC, on macroprecursors noted several weeks prior to the earthquake. The sequence of actions and information flow that occurred between community level observers and national/international scientists in May 2005 illustrate a new way in which local communities can contribute in a major way to seeing ahead for natural disasters.
UNDP/COMPREND seeks to facilitate these kinds of interactions, between community volunteers and professionals interested in community preparedness for natural disasters. When communities are able to see ahead, they can then prepare for any eventuality. Community observations of environmental changes and information sharing are essential for local and global security, as well as for the timely achievement of development goals.