Tuesday, October 19, 2021

BGI unveils P3 million technology to detect future earthquakes

Almost a year since the 6, 5 magnitude earthquake that hit Botswana in April 2017 Botswana Geoscience Institute (BGI), has completed the deployment of Network of Autonomously Recording Seismographs (NARS). The deployment is part of BGI’s efforts to improve detection of seismic events as they happen in Botswana. The 2017 earthquake was the second largest recorded earthquake since 1952. 

Acquired by collaboration between Botswana and the Netherlands through the Utrecht University the P3.2 million network was handed over to BGI this past Wednesday, March 1st, at the BGI office in Lobatse in the presence of officials from National Disaster Management Office.

The signing marked the transfer of ownership of the stations to the BGI, making the stations part of the Botswana Seismological Network (BSN).

Speaking at the handover ceremony BGI Chief Executive Officer Tiyapo Ngwisanyi lauded the completion of the deployment of NARS as an enormous step in BGI endeavours to listen to the heart beat of the earth, and advice accordingly as they will be getting real time reporting.

Until February this year NARS-Botswana seismic stations had been operating in ‘stand-alone’ mode which meant data was collected manually only a few times in a year and thus not effective in providing real time warning of unfolding seismic events. Ten out of BGI’s 21 stations have been upgraded to send real-time data to the server at the Head Office.

Ngwisanyi hailed the acquisition as a major milestone towards best practice in earthquake monitoring in Botswana saying it will elevate Botswana to be one of Africa’s most densely seismic station networked country.

The purpose of Botswana Seismological Network (BSN) is to determine the Earth’s structure beneath Botswana to obtain a better understanding of its complex tectonics (large scale process that controls the structure and properties of the Earth’s crust and its evolution over time).

“This handover follows completion of a collaboration project by the Seismology Group of Utrecht University by deploying a 21 broadband seismic station network across the Republic of Botswana in cooperation with the now  restructured or transformed Department of Geological Survey of the Republic of Botswana ,  the Department of Earth Systems Analysis of the Technical University of Twente (ITC), and the Africa Array (AA),” said BGI Marketing and Communications Manager James Molosankwe.

He said the project was planned for a duration of 4 years starting in June 2013, with the first station completed in October the same year and the last one in November 2015.

Also speaking at the handover ceremony Director of Science Delivery, Puso Akanayang, said one of the highlights of the NARS-Botswana research project was a PhD thesis completed by Dr Islam Fadel, under the supervision of Professor Mark Van Der Meijde at the University of Twente, The Netherlands. He said the study was important in understanding the deep seated geology of Botswana and in defining the large 6.5 Magnitude earthquake that occurred on 3rd April 2017. The thesis is available at BGI information Centre.

Botswana Geoscience Institute (BGI) is a public corporation constituted under the Botswana Geoscience Act, 2014 and wholly owned by the Government of Botswana. Arie van Wettum of Utrecht University performed the handover. The stations were acquired at a subsidised amount of P3.2 Million by the University of Utrecht.

BGI was established to undertake research in the field of geosciences, provide specialised geoscientific services and advice in all matters of geo-hazards. The Institute is also responsible for promoting the search for, and exploration of any minerals in Botswana.

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