The Capital city of Abuja was shaken recently by a series of huge earth tremors that had the hearts of most residents in their mouths.
Such was the impact of this earth tremor on September 5th, 2018 that it left a couple of roads and buildings damaged in its wake. The serious ground vibrations was reported to have lasted for several hours.
The vibrations that sent people into panic mode was first felt in the Mpape area of Abuja, then subsequently at the Gwarimpa and Maitama districts.
This slight earthquake was the very first of its kind in the history of the city, and it has led to worries amongst the inhabitants of the state, and other cities close to it.
The FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has however since calmed frayed nerves and assured residents that there’s no cause for alarm and dismissed the threats of a possible earthquake.
“The residents are to note that there is nothing to panic as there is no likelihood of any earthquake disaster in Nigeria as we are not in the earthquake zone,” an official statement read.
Here is everything you need to know about the Abuja Earth tremor and the all the findings that have followed:
What caused it?
In its statement, FEMA disclosed that the possible cause of the tremors might be as a result of major vacuums underground caused through mining activities.
ALSO READ: How to Minimize the Effects of an Earthquake
This vacuums exist as a result of the excessive drilling of over 110,000 boreholes in the nation’s capital city.
The agency defined it as a sign of seismic movement within the earth which is caused by sudden breaks along a fault line which results in the sudden release of energy that makes the ground shake.
Other speculative causes of the earth tremor
Despite FEMA’s official explanation for the vibrations, Nigerians have speculated on social media that the vibrations could be due to the fact that Abuja is almost diametrically opposite Fiji, a country that just got rocked with a magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
An earthquake in one location on the globe is bound to create a wave that travels to the diametric opposite side of it and possibly trigger earthquakes.
However, some recent evidence presented by Dr Adepelumi, the head of the Seismology team at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife have also suggested that although the reports by FEMA seem plausible, it may be actually wrong.
This was made known during an interview with Guardian Newspapers, and also via a series of tweets on twitter.
According to his findings, the earth tremor which has since being nicknamed “Mary”, was caused by 3m displacement along a NE-SW striking, and NW dipping normal fault that ruptured at 15 -20km depth.
The NE-SW fault lines were discovered to run through Mpape, the epicenter and first site of the tremors. The tremor was due to reactivation of old and new crustal faults systems.
See here for the full tweets.
Other locations where the tremors could happen.
The National Space Research and Development Agency has identified selected locations in Bayelsa, Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna and Abuja as hot spots for earth tremor.
The Director-General, NARSDA, Prof. Seidu Mohammed, disclosed this last week during an event organized by the Nigerian Society of Engineers in Abuja.
“In recent times there’s been a number of incidences in several locations. There was one in Shaki, Oyo State; some two years ago we had one in Oyi, Kaduna State and in some other locations. This year it was in Mpape. So from the analysis of the data available to us, Mpape is a hot spot and we need a detailed study of the fault system in Nigeria to identify such hotspots so that we can constantly monitor them.”
Asked whether there were other locations classified as hotspots across the country, Mohammed replied, “Yes there are other hotspots in Nigeria. Don’t forget that in 1984 there was an earth tremor in Ijebu Ode, (Ogun State). Subsequently, there was another in Saki in Oyo State. Two years ago, we had some in Bayelsa and Kaduna. This year, it was Mpape in the Federal Capital Territory.
“And what this means scientifically is that some of the inactive faults are getting active and if they are active, then there is a need for us to study them and in order to advise Nigeria in the event of incidents.”
How to survive the tremors
The agency also highlighted safety tips on what residents should do when the vibrations happen:
- If a vibration occurs while you’re in a building, the safest thing to do is to locate a safe room, drop down and take cover under desks or tables and hold on tight until the vibrations stop.
- If a vibration occurs, it is important to stay away from windows and objects that may fall and cause injury.
- If caught outdoors when a vibration occurs, it is important to find a clear spot far away from buildings, trees, powerlines and other physical objects that could fall and potentially cause injury.
- If a vibration occurs while inside a car, FEMA urges that you slow down, drive to a clear space, and stay in the car until the shaking stops.
- Most importantly, FEMA’s top safety tip on how to survive the vibrations is to stay calm and not panic.
ALSO READ: “Nigeria is Susceptible to an Earthquake”
The Way Forward
Prof. Seidu Mohammed further alluded to the fact that the excessive usage from over 110,000 boreholes in Abuja metropolis was the major cause of the earth tremor.
Mohammed said, “We are aware that there are over 110,000 boreholes within the Abuja metropolis. What that means is that enormous water is taken out of the storage underground every day, more than 330 metric tonnes on a daily basis. And this volume of water is causing a major vacuum underground.”
“The earth is dynamic and these are issues that we need to talk about. The government should take a look at the indiscriminate drilling of boreholes. It should be regulated. In the last 10 years, there have been so many incidences of tremors within Nigeria.”
However, Nigeria is still considered to be safe from an earthquake. According to FEMA, the vibrations are expected to stop soon.