Saturday, September 16, 2017

Earthquakes and economics

Among the recent strong earthquakes (EQs) that I personally felt was last August 11, 2017. I was in the office, 25/F of the building and I felt a bit dizzy, then I watched the door swinging by itself, the window blinds were swaying -- for nearly one minute, it was long. And it was a magnitude 6.3 EQ.

We get about 3-4 EQs a day on average in the Philippines, though most of them are mild (magnitude 1, 2) that only seismographs can detect them. Or they occur under the sea in Philippine territory.

EQs are our friend. The whole PH archipelago came from below the sea, a product of volcanic and geological movement hundreds of millions of years ago. That huge Benham/PH rise west of Luzon island is a product of volcanic and EQ movements. Though about 1+ kms. below sea level by now, it keeps rising, few cms a year.

Tectonic movements below allow gases and molten rocks from the core and mantle to move to the crust. The gases help mineralize ordinary rocks and stones into metallic products; they give us steam for geothermal power, natural gas, etc. Volcanoes that protrude from below the seas create new islands, like the current PH archipelago. 

All real estate developers in the country are aware of the high EQ frequency. EQs are 100% part of PH's geographical DNA. Hence, buildings should be strong. 

Government should tax less those strong buildings, them that use lots of steel, strong steel, in their posts and beams. But it seems the opposite happens, government taxes (real property tax by LGUs, VAT and other taxes by the national government) are higher in bigger, taller, stronger buildings. There is little danger living in strong skyscrapers even if EQs reach magnitude 7 or 8, possibly even 9, because of the huge volume of steel and more modern architectural designs for these structures. Dangers would be indoors like falling chandeliers, cabinets, bottles and glasses from tables and wine cabinets if the EQ is strong but the structures would normally withstand the swinging and sideways pressure.

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